Dumb Things People Say to Art Dealers


Our gallery started participating in art and antique shows more than 25 years ago and over that time, I have heard some of the most amazing (sometimes humorous and at other times hard to believe) comments from people visiting our booth.

Doubtless many gallery owners have these classic rare and unusual moments and stories from the floor. Here are the 2013 greatest hits from the show floor so far this year.

‘That painting is worth more than my house!’
Believe me, most dealers know that some of the works they offer for sale are more expensive than most homes; not much we can do about that. And you should be aware that most serious private collections exceed the value of the homes they are in.

‘I would have to sell my house to buy that painting!’
Well, if comment one is correct, then even if you sold your house you could not afford it! This is one of those comments that are better left unsaid.

‘Did you paint all of these paintings?’
Come on … most of us have wall tags with the names of each artist, along with their birth and/or death dates—emphasis on the death dates! Please take a few moments to read the tags before asking that question.

‘These are not old paintings; they look too new!’
If a work of art was properly cared for, it can look as good as the day it left the artist’s easel. And if the paintings you own do not look as good, maybe they have issues that need to be addressed.

‘I have no more wall space!’
Look, give me a few hours in your home and I will rearrange your works so that you can hang at least another 20 paintings; and if I need even more wall space, I know a carpenter who can quickly cover your windows with two-by-fours and sheetrock.

‘I like that painting, but if I bought it a few parts need to be painted out!’
What! Seriously? Look, after you buy a work, you can do whatever you want; but I do not want to know about it.

‘That is a nice work, but I have a better one at home!’
I highly doubt it, but then again, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder (or in this instance, the owner). Thanks for coming, missing you already!

‘Are you selling the frames or the paintings?’
I know you are all thinking: no way someone said that! Well, yes they did and it happened at a show in Chicago. To make it even worse, the individual was wearing a press badge and videotaping our works. Now here was my answer: Yes, we are selling the frames and as a bonus you get the painting at no additional charge!

‘When I win the lottery I will be back!’
We hear this one at every show and with the typical lottery odds it is more than likely that you will not be back.

‘I would love to buy something but you just do not have what I am looking for!’
The real question is—do you really have any idea what you are looking for?

‘I’ll know it when it hits me!’
I am not a violent person, but don’t tempt me! I have always wanted to hit someone with a painting just to see if they would buy it.

‘Do you buy paintings?’
No, we just sell them. Come on people; get with the program. Of course we buy paintings—otherwise we would have very little, or nothing, to sell.

‘I don’t have a house for a frame like that!’
A rarely used, yet ingenious excuse, and one which I did hear at a show in Baltimore recently. Now just in case anyone else wants to try this one, please note: we are always happy to either change a frame, or we can sell you the painting without one!

‘What is your best price?’
Look, a dealer’s best price is one that is far more than the work is currently priced at. I find that most people who ask this question end up just walking out of the booth and never return. We all know there is usually a little wiggle room in everything, and if you are going to ask for a lower price, be prepared to make a deal. Try not to waste the dealer’s time.

Howard Rehs is the director of Rehs Galleries and Rehs Contemporary Galleries in New York City. www.rehs.com. This article originally appeared on AAD, www.art-antiques-design.com



  • eyelashviper

    “My kid could do that”…

  • eyelashviper

    “Do you have any sofa size paintings?”
    Does it come in other colors?

  • Cruel Mammal

    Sorry, as a collector I have to share the dumbest thing I have said. “Oh, that’s less than I expected.” I just blurted it out. No bargaining after that.


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