Some Thoughts November 2009

After being involved with tribal art for slightly over 35 years, you begin to recognize a few patterns. Bad things do happen occasionally and when they do, events sometimes cause people to take a few short cuts. Some are scrambling now to recover from an over extended financial position last fall. Whether that is an aggressive dealer buying on credit that suddenly dried up with no sales to service the line, a collector that suddenly saw liquidity in their collection vanish over night, or maybe even a museum that has pledged gifts that now are being reconsidered, we all are forced to adjust to a new fiscal reality. Opportunity now is defined as understanding the agendas of the moment. You remember in the early 1980's when we had over twenty African art dealers in New York City that suddenly when the art market dropped or "corrected" as some might say, couldn't sell their inventory for what they paid for it. This is the tribal art version of musical chairs and if you want to have a place to sit down, you do need to be alert to the times. Dealers are already become more vicious as they jockey for position. This might be damning a colleague's objects, lying about provenance, or failing to meet their obligations. It's a nasty world. This is a time when people are nervous and when they are nervous they are subject to being influenced more easily. You can use your imagination... this can come in many forms. Be careful and understand what the agendas are. Put your trust in long term performance and not the "expert" that just happens to be on your door step. Rely on the people that you have had successful dealings with in good times and in bad. Any believe me any decision you have to make immediately is probably not worth making. For many it will probably get worse before it gets better. Be careful and you will increase your chances of having a place to sit when the music stops.