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News / City Life

Things you only know if you’re an art dealer

Jean-David Malat, gallery owner
Photograph: Andy Parsons

…according to Jean-David Malat, 44.

Celebs who collect art move in mysterious ways

‘Some people know a lot about art, but others want to be guided by you. My friend Natalie Imbruglia came to my gallery and loved some works I recommended by the young Norwegian painter Henrik Uldalen. But someone like Leonardo DiCaprio already knows what he likes. He actually contacts artists he likes through Instagram.’

The quickest way to make a deal: have friends in the right places

‘There are no rules about how you meet famous people, but once you do, selling a painting by Marc Chagall or Pablo Picasso isn’t difficult. If you’ve got the client and a good piece at the right price, you just make a deal. The most important work I’ve sold was a diptych by Francis Bacon for around $12 million. If you’re looking for a Bacon tomorrow, I  can find one.’

Breaking new artists is a thrill

‘I think it’s wrong to sell art just to make lots of money. What excites me more than dealing in the secondary market is finding buyers for new, young artists who I represent. You can change that artist’s life, make them famous, make their work go to an important collection.’

The European touch helps

‘I don’t have too much of a French accent, do I? No, I’m joking – it’s very strong and it works well for me. I am from Paris, but when I opened my own gallery, I never thought of locating anywhere other than London. I think it’s much stronger for art than Paris.’

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