You may use Instagram to post pictures of your Starbucks orders and your lunch, but social media savvy art dealers are using the photo sharing app to make sales worth millions. In 2015, Leonardo DiCaprio bought a painting after seeing it in Instagram and now a 2013 report shows that almost half of all art-buyers use the social network.
– "I am just a poor boy Though my story's seldom told I have squandered my resistance Fora pocket full of mumbles, such are promises All lies and jests Still a man hears what he wants to hear And disregards the rest – – When I left my home and my family I was no more than a boy In the company of strangers In the quiet of the railway station Running scared, Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters Where the ragged people go Looking for the places Only they would know – – Asking only workman's wages I come looking for a job But I get no offers Just a come-on from the whores On Seventh Avenue I do declare There were times when I was so lonesome I took some comfort there, le le le le le – In a clearing stands a boxer And a fighter by his trade And he carries the reminders Of ev'ry glove that laid him down Or cut him till he cried out In his anger and his shame – 'I am leaving, I am leaving' – But the fighter still remains – Lie la lie, lie la la la lie lie Lie la lie, lie la la la la lie la la lie – – SIMON & GARFUNKEL, 'The Boxer' – – The main character of Paul Simon's 'The Boxer' bears a striking resemblance to the early life of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Born in Brooklyn to a Haitian father and a Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat left home at 15, dropping out of school and living by his wits on the streets of New York until he was discovered fully formed as a primitive expressionist at the age of twenty-one. As a lone black artist in a totally white art world, Basquiat identified with the struggling black boxer and painted him in a series of 'surrogate self-portraits', as a crucified victim and a heroic victor in the ring. Here he depicts middle weight champion "Sugar Ray Robinson", 1982, a powerhouse of muscle in his splendid orange boxer shorts, almost shackled by the bulk of his superhuman strength and the breaking balls of his gloves. Jean-Michel Basquiat's 'Sugar Ray', 1982 will be on view this week in Hong Kong as part of Christie's curated selling exhibition, 'The Loaded Brush". – – #famousnegroathletes #jeanmichelbasquiat #powerandtheglory #theloadedbrush #christies @_inouekoji #theboxer #wordsandimages
Christie’s top dealmaker Brett Gorvy learned just how powerful the app can be when he posted a picture of boxing champion Sugar Ray Robinson by Jean-Michel Basquiat. He posted the photo before taking a plane to Hong Kong and when he landed 16 hours later he had three messages from potential buyers who wanted to know if the painting as available. In fact, one of the interested parties immediately made an offer and the painting ultimately sold 2 days later for $24 million, which is triple the amount that the work fetched at auction in 2007.
Gorvy no longer works at Christie’s but he told Bloomberg that this incident “shows you the power of social media and the transformation of how people are buying.” The app allows potential buyers from all over the world to see what dealers have to sell and also allows dealers to be abreast of trends and get a sense of what collectors are looking for. The quickness of Gorvy’s Basquiat deal surprised others in the art industry. “That’s the highest number I’ve heard” said Simon de Pury, an auctioneer, referring to art sales via Instagram.
While in the past social media was used to mainly promote artists and exhibitions, it may soon gain importance as an important generator of sales.