What I Buy & Why: Art-Fair Director Kamiar Maleki on the Artwork That Got Away (and the One His Son Can’t Stop Trying to Play With)

Kamiar Maleki, the London-based director of the Pulse and Volta fairs, tells us about which artists he has his eye on.

Kamiar Maleki was named in new director of VOLTA in November 2019. Photo courtesy of Ramsay Fairs.

A version of this story first appeared in the spring 2020 Artnet Intelligence Report.

What was your first acquisition?

Technically, a piece by Japanese photographer Tomoaki Makino from the now-defunct Museum 52, in London. But what I’d consider my first serious piece was a Ged Quinn painting, The Wintry Wind of the Bone, which I bought for under £8,000.

What was your most recent acquisition?

A painting by a young Iranian artist called Amir Khojasteh, from a group show at Gazelli Art House.

Which works or artists are you hoping to add to your collection this year?

I don’t have a specific list, but some of my favorite artists right now are Sanam Khatibi, Cassi Namoda, Louise Bonnet, Robin F. Williams, and Genesis Belanger.

Amir Khojasteh, The Painter (2018). Copyright the Artist. Courtesy Carbon 12, Dubai.

What is the most expensive work of art that you own?

I don’t value art by its price. My favorite pieces are from Ida Ekblad, Neil Beloufa, Dean Levin, and Melike Kara.

Where do you buy art most frequently?

From art fairs, galleries, and degree shows.

Is there a work you regret purchasing? If so, why?

One never regrets any purchase. I always buy art that I love. There are a few that I regret not purchasing!

What work do you have hanging above your sofa?

A Paul Kneale inkjet on canvas [in the living room], and in the bedroom above the sofa, I have a Parker Ito and a Kour Pour.

What artwork, if any, do you have in your bathroom?

Sadly, I don’t have any artwork in the bathroom. My parents, on the other hand, have plenty of art hanging in their bathrooms.

Paul Kneale, Various Magics (2015). Courtesy of the artist.

What is the most impractical work of art you own? What makes it so challenging?

A Prem Sahib football that is made out of resin. While I love it, my son keeps trying to play football with it!

What work do you wish you had bought when you had the chance?

A Lucas Arruda I saw in Mendes Wood DM’s booth at Art Basel Hong Kong around six years ago. It was one of the few big pieces he’s made, and it was stunning. To this day, I regret not pushing harder to buy it.

If you could steal one work of art without getting caught, what would it be?

The Fighting Temeraire, Tugged to Her Last Berth to Be Broken Up (1839) by J.M.W. Turner.


A version of this story first appeared in the spring 2020 Artnet Intelligence Report. To download the full report, which has juicy details on how A.I. could transform the art industry, Inigo Philbrick’s rise and fall as a wunderkind art dealer, and how titans of the finance industry are infiltrating the auction houses, click here

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