By Nii B. Andrews.

High hammer prices at auction sales seldom ensure a direct return for young emerging artists especially when the prices are a result of speculation by previous buyers…..known less charitably as “flippers” aka COINs (Collectors Only In Name). 

Very often, neither the artist nor dealer accrue profits from an auction sale.

When a young artist’s work is brought to auction, it creates tremendous pressure on the artist.

If the sale results in a high demand for the particular artist’s work, the pressure may lead to burnout with disastrous consequences for their career.

UNTITLED: Torsu Andrews Yao, ball point pen on paper; 2019. Private collection.

All of the above are especially true for young African artists and were recently poignantly alluded to in a comprehensive article on the short career of Amoako Boafo. (

Furthermore, dealers and galleries that may have nurtured their nascent careers risk losing the artists to larger and better resourced galleries with access to big collectors and large resources.

Greenhouse, which has just been launched, is a new online only auction house with a mission to reduce speculation on the emerging artists’ market; it was founded by former Christie’s vice president Shlomi Rabi.

Each Greenhouse sale will provide a curated, cross-disciplinary selection of fine art and objects, most of which are valued at $20,000 or less in order to provide an accessible entry-point for new collectors as well as artists whose markets are growing quickly.

UNTITLED: Nicholas Kowalski, mixed media, 2017. Private collection.

Through Greenhouse, artists can sell their works directly as can dealers who want to reach new clients for artists’ works that perhaps simply did not sell in a show or fair.

Shlomi Rabi states that his aim is to “reflect a community ethos that nurtures and diversifies the next generation” of collectors, artists and dealers.

Sellers at Greenhouse will keep 95% of the hammer price of a sold work, while collectors will pay a 20% buyer’s premium. 

The 5% fee assessed from sellers will be donated in its entirety toward the establishment of a new Thurgood Marshall College Fund to benefit students studying art history across more than 40 historically African-American colleges and universities in the US.

The inaugural sale for the platform will be in December 2020.

Leave a Reply