Here come the new collectors, same as the old collectors. Barron’s has an article on collectors from the developing world (emerging markets like China) asking for unorthodox art deals, such as payment terms that extend over “weeks and months,” plus sometimes failing to follow through on promises to buy. Silly new collectors! Don’t you know you’re growing faster than the US anyway!?

Daniel Grant writes of these rascally newcomers,

Some of the emerging-market collectors have been known to buy and then walk away, or refuse to pay. Some assume that an auction represents the start of negotiations rather than their conclusion.

But wait, there’s also the angle of cultural relativism to be considered! Adam Sheffer, an owner of New York’s Cheim & Read contemporary art gallery, notes that “You can’t do business in another culture the way you do it here,” and wisely adds, “in a down market, you don’t turn down business.”

Doesn’t all this loutish behavior sound a little familiar? Like, maybe collectors everywhere do it, whether you’re in Beijing or Chelsea? The Art Market Monitor picks up on this discrepancy, noting that the anecdotes “Don’t seem confined to ’emerging markets’ collectors but standard practice among the rich.” Surprise, rich collectors are the same everywhere. But what about those Russian oligarchs who insist on paying in oil rights instead of cash?

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...