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Publisher's Summary

The meteoric rise of the largest unregulated financial market in the world - for contemporary art - is driven by a few passionate, guileful, and very hard-nosed dealers. They can make and break careers and fortunes.

The contemporary art market is an international juggernaut, throwing off multimillion-dollar deals as wealthy buyers move from fair to fair, auction to auction, party to glittering party. But none of it would happen without the dealers - the tastemakers who back emerging artists and steer them to success, often to see them picked off by a rival. 

Dealers operate within a private world of handshake agreements, negotiating for the highest commissions. Michael Shnayerson, a longtime contributing editor to Vanity Fair, writes the first-ever definitive history of their activities. He has spoken to all of today's so-called mega dealers - Larry Gagosian, David Zwirner, Arne and Marc Glimcher, and Iwan Wirth - along with dozens of other dealers - from Irving Blum to Gavin Brown - who worked with the greatest artists of their times: Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, and more. 

This kaleidoscopic history begins in the mid-1940s in genteel poverty with a scattering of galleries in midtown Manhattan, takes us through the ramshackle 1950s studios of Coenties Slip, the hipster locations in SoHo and Chelsea, London's Bond Street, and across the terraces of Art Basel until today. Now, dealers and auctioneers are seeking the first billion-dollar painting. It hasn't happened yet, but they are confident they can push the price there soon.

©2019 Michael Shnayerson (P)2019 Hachette Audio

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  • Clifford I. Davis
  • 04-07-2019

Outstanding

I didn’t want to put this book down. It defines and explains the contemporary art market. The key players, and how they’ve established and will potentially maintain or loose their positions. A great book for someone who knows nothing about the contemporary art world or for someone who is knowledgeable and a part of it for years. Highly recommend

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  • Dan
  • 15-09-2019

Ultra-Insightful Window: The Dealing of Fine Art

Simply everything you wanted to know about the intriguing world of selling, buying and collecting fine art. It's as if you were listening to a confidential exchange of information between a cable's agents with all of its secrets laid bare. l could not stop listeming!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-10-2019

great overview of the art market, and it's history

I highly recommend you read this book if you want to gain some in depth knowledge about the economic side of the art world.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 24-07-2019

Good read

excellent overview of contemporary gallery and auction world. Just enough gossip to feel like an insider view

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  • Karen pautz
  • 14-07-2019

Young artist who just learned years worth of knowledge

This entire book hooked me in from the start. Not only does it feel like it’s always at the right pace so you don’t get board constantly hearing the same names over and over (that’s all the art world is) . Felt like an entire year of art school wrapped into a book

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-04-2020

Enjoyable Recount

Story is great, well-paced and has some very fun anecdotes that I hadn’t previously heard. I’m dubious of the narrator’s pronunciation though. Do people call the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles “La Mocha”?

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  • Robert Aiosa
  • 25-12-2019

VERY GOOD

very entertaining, but also revolting in how the art market has become out of touch with art.

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  • David B.
  • 22-10-2020

a study of monopoly

a story of oligopoly in contemporary art and the damaging effects it has on culture. makes you really think about how horrific monopolies like Amazon are and how Jeff Bezos has made so much money in a pandemic

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  • l
  • 30-07-2019

The money & power side of contemporary art

Shnayerson's chronicling of art dealing and collecting since WWII is solid journalism. If you are interested in that story, The narrator's brainless delivery is tolerable but barely.

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  • Frankie Froodle
  • 23-11-2019

Some interesting anecdotes, too much megadealer

Started out well, quite interesting as a market history but too hagiographic on the megadealers

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  • Hartles
  • 15-04-2020

A good overview

A good overview of most of the biggest galleries and their key personalities around today and how they got to where they are.

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