On a serious note Roadshow lost a great guy and a true professional in Barry Weber who died last month of cancer. I spent some time with him this summer laughing with him at a late dinner in Billings, Montana and then later in Miami Beach listening to his horrendous karaoke. (For the record I am much worse). In retrospect I am certain he knew how sick he was but kept it from all of us. It was his moment and he planned to play it his way. I respect Barry and genuinely liked him. He will be missed.
In this issue I have given you an update of Fisk University selling off part of their Okeefe collection to Crystal Bridges in Arkansas. I get the fact that things change and sometimes you have to make tough decisions; however, Okeefe specifically said the collection could not be sold. In previous issues I have commented on how little our last wishes really mean and cited George Heye and Albert Barnes as examples of philanthropists who also lost their battles in abstentia. The Fisk board provided only a pathetic defense of their actions. The judge in the case attempted a Solomonic resolution by not cutting the baby in half but it still didn't feel right.
My Park West articles - there now two new ones on the blog - point out sadly how even professionals that work in and around the art world sometimes fail to understand very basic elements in the buying, selling, insuring, and appraising of art. When this happens and expectations are not met then clearly bad things happen. I don't plan to wade into the legal swamp on this case. Park West Gallery is a very sophisticated operation and they know precisely what they are doing. Park West has carefully measured their liability and seemingly have a strategy to defend their actions. These legal cases will decide whether these strategies should prevail in the marketplace. The Park West case dramatically proves why we need more qualified personal property appraisers in the U.S. and Canada. We are now at around 2000 trained personal property appraisers - which is down 30% from a decade ago. And for people needing a job in a down economy there is plenty of work in this area.