A few prologue items...
In an effort to provide you with the most thorough answer
possible, I have broken down your answer into several subsections so
that you may be able to sift through the information that I am about
to provide you with more effectively. Because you are uncertain about
the ultimate fate of the painting, I have decided to entertain and
research every possible route for you, and delineate the options here.
However, as you know, I was not able to receive any quantifiable
answers from any of the parties contacted, as they required both an
appraisal proof as well as a digitized image of the Rauschenberg at
hand. As we have discussed, I will be more than happy to provide you
with all of the help that you need in the near future determining the
most sound decision for the painting.
But for now, I will just list all of the places that I contacted,
how I found the places and what the pros and cons of each possibility
are. Once we get all of the information to the interested parties as
requested, I am sure that you will find that you will find no problem
selling your piece at the value that it was appraised for, and then
perhaps some more! I decided that this was the case because, when
calling all of the people that I contacted, their interests were
piqued immediately when they heard the artist's name, and when I asked
if there was a good market for his work right now, they all replied
with an emphatic "yes!" You try and get "art people" to reply to
anything emphatically, and you will then understand why I was so
impressed with their reactions!
Option 1: Lending it to an art gallery and reaping the possible tax
benefits all while doing a philanthropic good.
Saerch terms used on Google: "tax benefits" and "lend," which produces
the following results:
...And then I did "tax benefits" "art" and "donation" and came up with
the following search page:
-From the latter search, I came across the Art Cellar Exchange Web
site, which included a wonderful page on the logistics of the tax
benefits involved in DONATING ART. So I contacted them and asked if
the same held true for lending art, and they told me that the most
that you are going to get from lending a piece of art to a gallery is
recognition in the form of your name on a placard displayed visibly
next to the piece. Since your question included an appraisal value of
the painting, I assumed that you were looking for more than name
recognition. Because I was impressed with the Art Cellar Exchange's
Web site, I decided to take a shot in the dark and ask if they would
be interested in a 1972 Rauschenberg, to which they replied, "Of
course!" Because I did not have any details on the piece at this
time, I just let them know that we would be in contact with them in
the near future once I get this answer squared away with you.
On their site, there is an excerpt from "Artful Ownership" by
The whole thing can be found at:
They basically say that, before deciding to donate any pieces with the
hope of some tax benefit, contact your finance person so that he/she
can help you make the best decision. I think that this is really
important because, while working at the D-Arcy Art Gallery in Chicago,
I saw many an unhappy donor, who were either disappointed with the
praise and recognition that they received (or lack thereof) from their
benefactor, or expressed concerns about the amount of red tape that
you have to go through in order to receive any benefit from your
donation. Please bear this in mind when making a choice!
And now on to the more profitable possibilities.....
Selling to an art gallery:
I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to first, do
a search and find all of the art galleries in the U.S. that currently
have some type of a collection of Rauschenberg's work. Because I have
done many searches like this before, I recalled a site,
http://www.askart.com, which always provides a very comprehensive list
of galleries that showcase certain artists' works. Sure enough, there
he was, as well as every single gallery or museum in the country that
has his work on display:
To see the museums and galleries that have his work, click on the link
that is titled "museums holding" and then I think that there is the
number 69 there, which indicates that there are 69 places in the
country that have his work. To me, this means that there are at least
69 museum and gallery possibilities that could be interested in your
After finding this list, I called every one that I saw which I
viewed as a good possibility, and they were all very interested, but,
like I have said, they were not really willing to discuss any details
without having detailed information in front of them, which, as it
turns out, is actually a good thing that they don't have any specifics
because I was told by many of them that I should not let it out of the
bag that there is a good Rauschenberg floating around, because all of
the prospects are in contact with one another because they deal with
the same realm of art, and this will inevitably make the value of the
painting go down, and that is the last thing that we want. They
paralleled it to a new star being the topic of every entertainment
show, and then everyone talks about her so much that she just fizzles
out. It becomes self-depreciating. Better to keep them on the edge,
they say, which I also agree with.
While researching, I discovered that the artist attended the Art
Institute of Kansas City, which is where I live, so I decided to call
up a few of the places here and find out what they thought about the
piece. The two main galleries that would be interested here are:
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, http://www.nelson-atkins.org, who has
a great collection of Rauschenbergs allegedly. The department that
you would need to speak to for purchases is the "loan department" (I
don't know why they are called that) at (816)561-4000.
The Kemper Museum of Modern Art here also has an interest in your
piece, as I have spoken to the director about it. Her name is Rachel
Blackburn and can be contacted at (816) 753-1873.
There are several other places that you really should contact in
terms of galleries and museums, so I really recommend that you either
begin calling them or commission me to do so (no more fee...you've
already been gracious), but for now I will move on two the next two
options, art dealers and the auction houses.
Option 3: Art Dealers:
To get this information, I used the same site (askart), because
they are just so darn comprehensive with their information. If you
take a look at the links titled "artwork for sale," "art wanted" and
"dealers," you will see the two major places that I found who are most
interested in your piece.
A) Rogallery.com in Long Island. I spoke to the owner. He was a
great guy. His name is Robert Rogal and can be contacted at (800)
888-1063. He wants exclusive rights to you, so be careful when
contacting him, though I think that they are ready to pay for the
work, since they have explicitly stated that they are seeking a
B) B) The Art Cellar Exchange in San Diego. They were really nice
and are also directly seeking his work. Speak to a woman named Amy
(last initial is K). She is the one who wants to handle this
directly, and is also the one who told me not to let you speak to too
many people about this, because word travels fast in the art world.
Their number is (800) 326-2236, and her email address is
Option 4: The Auction Houses:
I have heard from many people that your best bet is going
straight through a dealer, because at a gallery, you can only HOPE to
get the true value of the painting, while through a dealer, this is
guaranteed. The upside to an auction house is that you might get
really lucky and have a person at the auction who has been waiting his
or her whole life to find a Rauschenberg, and would actually go way
above the market price in the bid to secure the piece. I have decided
that you need to speak to the big big auction houses for this one, so
I have located a list with all of their contact information for you.
I found the best site for this:
Http://www.wilamette.edu/cla/art/auction.html. This is a metasite
that is really objective, and gives you, in plain terms, what each of
these houses specializes in.
To find this on Google, I just did "art auction houses"
and came up with the preceding results. In this list, I found that
gem of a site, sponsored obviously by a university who has a very
strong art program.
Here are the main auction houses and their contact numbers:
Christies: (212) 492-5485
Sotheby's (541) 312-5682
Bonham's (415) 861-7500
Lunds (Canada) (250) 386-3308
Pacific Galleries (206) 441-9990
Sloan and Kenyon (301) 634-2330
The list that I have just supplied you with is what I came up
with after looking at all of their Web sites and finding out which
ones dealt specifically with what you have.
Paul, I hope that I have been of a sufficient amount of help for
you in your quest to find a good home for your piece, which I am sure
is wonderful. You have genuinely been a pleasure
to work with!