A new Canadian auction house called ByDealers launched this week.
And if all goes well, the new house will put Montreal—and commercial galleries—into a stronger position within Canada’s art market.
The value proposition ByDealers is offering sellers seems to be a combination of (a) the promise of traditional private-sale discretion and expertise mixed with (b) the potential for the kind of price increases that can happen in the midst of a heated public auction.
ByDealers also offers private art galleries a cut of Canada’s increasingly lucrative (for some) auction market—one example in May being when Heffel sold a Riopelle painting for $7 million. That was seven times the painting’s low estimate of $1 million.
“There is a big gap between private sale prices and prices at auction, and the idea is to create, in association with the dealers, an auction house or a place or an event for the dealers to be able to put some prestige work out there” and get sellers the best price possible, says Marc-Antoine Longpré, the former investment advisor who is coordinating the project.
“All works are consigned by the dealers and their clients,” Longpre says. “So dealers are able to see and to discuss with the clients what piece should go to auction and which should stay in the gallery for a private sale.”
ByDealers is a partnership with (for this auction) 15 Canadian art dealers: Toronto’s Canadian Fine Arts, Miriam Shiell Fine Art, Gallery Gevik, Christopher Cutts Gallery, and Montreal’s Galerie Yves Laroche, Lacerte Art Contemporain, Han Art Gallery, Galerie Jean-Pierre Valentin, Galerie Éric Klinkhoff, Galerie Laroche/Joncas, Galerie Robert Poulin, Robin Rosenberg Fine Art. Also involved is Calgary’s Masters Gallery, Bloomfield’s Oeno Gallery and Ottawa’s Galerie d’art Vincent.
“The idea came from many dealers,” says Longpré. “I am the one directing, but the idea came from the dealers themselves.”
Lots in the first auction, which takes place November 6 in Montreal, include works by Jean Paul Riopelle, Joan Mitchell, Marcelle Ferron, Jack Bush, Rita Letendre and Paterson Ewen.
Montreal has long been an important stop for national art-auction previews, but the live national events for auction houses Heffel, Waddington’s, Consignor and Walkers usually go on in Toronto, Vancouver or Ottawa.
“I think there is an important market in Montreal—maybe even more in the postwar and contemporary scene,” says Longpré.
Some marketing moves may give ByDealers a bigger splash than expected for a first-time auction.
First, the ByDealers auction is booked two weeks before the main Canadian art auction week featuring Heffel, Waddington’s and Consignor.
Second, ByDealers is advertising itself as having fully digital live bidding options. “You request a virtual paddle number 24 hours before the sale,” says Longpré. “Then you log in, you get the live feed from the sale, and you are able to bid as if you are in the room.” You don’t have to call in on the phones.
Third, a preview of works for the first ByDealers auction will be on view at Toronto’s Intercontinental Hotel during the Art Toronto fair October 26 to 29. Some collectors seek out and purchase important works of historical Canadian art at the Art Toronto fair, so this is a good way for ByDealers to reach them.
This article was corrected on October 18, 2017. The original story incorrectly stated that the Toronto preview was October 28 to 30.