Igor Olho-Azul On What It Takes To Be a Successful Art Dealer

The owner of VERITAS says being proactive is key to getting good consignments.

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Igor Olho-Azul
Igor Olho-Azul
Igor Olho-Azul, Owner, VERITAS Art Auctioneers.
Joan Miró
Joan Miró, Les Essenciès de la Terra. "Auction 44: Modern & Contemporary Art," May 28, 2015. Est. $22,000–30,000.
Juan Muñoz
Juan Muñoz, Ejercicio Barroco. "Auction 44: Modern & Contemporary Art," May 28, 2015. Est. $20,000–30,000.
Anselm Kiefer, Schechina (1999). "Auction 44: Modern & Contemporary Art," May 28, 2015. Est. $600,000–900,000.
Antonio Tàpies
Antonio Tàpies, Rectangles Tâches. (1971). "Auction 44: Modern & Contemporary Art," May 28, 2015. Est. $80,000-120,000.

VERITAS Art Auctioneers is a leading Portuguese auction house that focuses on fine antiques and modern and contemporary art. It also offers specialized art consultancy and appraisal services. VERITAS owner, Igor Olho-Azul, shares with us his experience as an auctioneer, and gives us an inside look at the upcoming modern and contemporary art sale on May 28.

What do you need to be a good dealer?
To be an art lover! To be persistent, trustworthy, and able to catch good pieces.

How do you feel before a sale? Do you have any pre-sale rituals?
I am the auctioneer, so I feel thousands of butterflies in my stomach before I start. I guess singing loudly is my only pre-sale ritual.

If I had the time, I would do some Tai Chi and meditation.

Why do works by the same artist bring such different prices?
Every artist has ups and downs in his career. The phase, the quality of the work itself, and the rarity of a particular work has great influence on the estimate and the result. Also, the buzz around some artists at very specific times can generate higher expectations.

When is your next important sale? Why should we come?
In a few days actually, on May 28.

You should come because you’ll get to see Anselm Kiefer’s masterpiece Schechina, 1999. It is a work that should be looked at in person, not in pictures. It should be smelled. It has all the elements that are characteristic in Kiefer’s work. It’s a shame that it is not allowed to be touched.

Besides that, we also have Antoni Tàpies, Juan Muñoz, Helena Almeida, Joan Miró, and Claudio Bravo—great art and some really nice weather in Lisbon at the moment.

How do you select most of your consignments? Are you reaching out to clients? Or are they coming to you?
For the top pieces, I would say it is about being proactive. As we want to present the best selection possible at every sale, we really work on “capturing” the greatest pieces. As most collectors are busy professionals, we have to keep calling their phones to remind them of consignment deadlines. But also, as we grow and get more attention, we get more and more surprises knocking on our door.

Bids are increasingly coming from all corners of the world. What can you say about this trend?
Greater access to information would be the main reason for that. To some extent, a good piece sells itself as the information travels across channels and reaches the people to whom it will be relevant. We’ve experienced that many times in our sales.

If you could have dinner with any three artists, living or dead, who would you choose?
There are great dead artists, but I would rather prefer to pick some of the best living ones. I would consider having Anselm Kiefer, Julian Schnabel, and Matthew Barney all at the same table. We would be drinking Portuguese red wine, for sure.

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