A New Years Musing about a business deal “Gone Bad”…saved by the RAM!

I live my life within an interesting intersection of life passions… real estate, art, and philanthropy.I thrive on making creative connections, putting deals together that can help people find what they are looking for and believe they want, while advancing their love of the arts.Despite my best efforts sometimes this can turn into a deal and specifically a real estate deal fraught with highs and lows, dips and hairpin turns, where no one gains. Even with a strong desire to control the deal, it can tumble out of control. The lesson learned here is patience and as the saying goes “stay calm and carry on.”

 
Hesiode et la Muse - Gustave Moreau 1891

Hesiode et la Muse –
Gustave Moreau 1891

Real Art Muse has learned from many Muses along her way.
Combining their strengths and softness with wisdom. According to ancient Greek mythology – a muse is the personification of knowledge and the arts while being a goddess of inspiration. I like to add that a muse is driven to do good deeds. This can be a tall order in modern times, but I still try to live up to this goal.
There will always be challenges when trying to bring real estate and art together – my more lofty aspiration.

Summer 2013, I was attempting to help an artist, Greg Miller, who I met at his NYC solo show in Soho several ago, through my relationship with the California based gallerist Susan Snyder of Caldwell Snyder/Compton Gallery who represented Gred and still does today.

Greg Miller had been in touch with me over the years and was planning a visit from his Texas home this past summer specifically with the goal in mind to look at real estate for a possible home/studio in the Hamptons. I was asked by him to to show he and his wife Barbara around and give them the lay of the land. Their last visit was several years before when Greg had rented a home in Montauk which motivated him to come back and consider a Hamptons retreat, where he could work and surf while spending time with his collector friends.

I had spent my summers ever since I was an infant going to the Hamptons with my various parents and for the past 13 years as a part time resident. I combined a keen understanding of the artist’s needs and put together a list of suitable properties, in advance of his visit.
During their visit I set up for them to see my real estate recommendations combined with making some local real estate connections and RealArtMuse hospitality. I gave them a sense a thorough overview of what the different hamlets offer focusing on an area called the Springs, which I had recommended. It helped that Greg had also seemed enthusisatic about this idea, so we were both on the same pageThe challenge is showing a vast range of properties, within a budget, including land vs. renovated and tear downs homes, while explaining the pros and cons of each property. I personally like to mix in some cultural hampton highlights along the way. Especially in this case since their is so much history and still is, an artist’s haven.

Recently I visited the old James Brooks and Christine Park home on a 11 acres, which was purchased by the town of East Hampton preservation fund.  Many of the homes that DeKooning, Motherwell, and Pollack lived in still exist and in the case of the Pollack Krasner House can be visited. In addition, many famous living artists live and love the Hampton’s such as Cindy Sherman’s with her home and artist studio in the Springs – EastHampton, NY

My game plan was to make contacts with local south fork real estate agents in order for us to tap into their local expertise and to form up a collaborative effort – the best way to cover all bases. Normally compensation for this type of joint effort is a shared sales commission, a co-broke or a % referral arrangement, depending on the agency and the relationship, and the work involved.
Greg Miller's paint and collage on canvass, "Dependable"

Greg Miller’s paint and collage on canvass, “Dependable”

 

The dynamics of this particular deal did not work out as smoothly as I had planned. One of the local brokers I introduced the Millers to and who was not acting exclusively for them reinserted himself after I already negotiated a deal and got an accepted offer by Sothebys, who represented the seller of the property.
The broker I introduced the Miller’s to decided and convinced the client that he was their broker on the deal and he decided that I deserved less then what I was due. When the client decided it was best to work with the broker who I introduced them to after the home was already negotiated by me, I realized that my hands were tied. The title of the artist’s artwork “Dependable” was an omen of what was an unexpected turn for the worse. On the other hand in a real estate and in an art deal…I take great pride in being “Dependable”! So, my advise was to stay calm and carry on and hire a sensible lawyer. I hired a local lawyer in the Hamptons, Theresa Quigley and with her voice of reason while weighing my legal options gave me insight and a game plan.

Once a lawyer is involved it usually means trouble. I hired Theresa to avoid legal action. The real estate and art world have a great deal of misunderstandings. I usually recommend an arbitrator who can weigh in on both sides and make a final decision. Teresa was good at guiding me through the process and making sure my name was on the commission agreement. With the help of Rylan Jacka of Sotheby’s, who represented the seller, my name was on the contract for sale which I negotiated on behalf of the Miller’s new home on Talmage Road in the Springs, East Hampton

Despite my contacts, expertise and the extensive time spent to develop a relationship, there is always a chance this deal would not have closed, and that is where being a realartmuse came into play. My goal even with the unfortunate turn of events was to get the Miller’s what they had seemed to want and come to a successful close.

I had faced the prospect of getting nothing for my contact and contributions.

In the end, after some intense weeks of negotiation, I decided it was best to take less then what I deserved. I settled on a lesser commission, in order that everyone could be a winner and the Miller’s got their prize.

Everyday there are twists of fate. Sometimes it is not worth the fight. Right or wrong is inconsequential since all parties; the seller, buyer and the brokers think they were right. A recent well known artist muse by the name Baby Jane Holzer, got into a commission conflict. I believe a real estate deal and and with an art deal, it is a journey and the destination is resolving the conflicts amicably so both sides Win. In this case this case, the prize was a lovely home in the Springs on an acre with enough room to build a sizeable art studio in order to create art for art lovers. I realized my goal when the deal was signed just before Thanksgiving. Less then 3 months prior to showing them the home, they now own it.

After a recent chat with the Judge Burke of Southampton, who represented the buyer, he shared his wisdom as a lawyer and a judge. “People need to know when to let go and stop fighting – something is better then nothing.” One good turn might not have ended up working 100% in my favor. However, I settled for 33%.

Metropolitan Museum of Art for the free and the brave

Metropolitan Museum of Art for the free and the brave

A year ago even the likes of the reputable Metropolitan Museum with a mission statement written back in 1893 had to fight a lawsuit, which exemplifies how
the Metropolitan Museum 
can be considered to be shortsighted but not greedy.
After months of negotiations, the wise Judge Kornreich (who I have experienced in court)
reminded the storied institution when they signed a lease with the city in 1878 that the admission was free 5 days a week, and the intent of the 1893 law which gave the Met State support was so “Admission is defacto free for all.” A penny is now accepted, however their is a “recommended or suggested fee” of $11-$25  for adults. By the way, the MOMA charges $25 for adults, except for free Friday nights, so the MET is actually a bargain

The lesson I learned this year is always be true to your calling in life, however to be equally careful of others who may not be as fair minded or honest in their business conduct. Take the high road whenever possible; the view is better.The good news is as of November 2013, the artist closed on his house in the Springs and the lawyer sent me a check. I can rest assure that I made this deal happen by pulling all the people together, negotiating fairly and moving quickly and adeptly, while letting everyone believe they had their way.

 
A HAPPY NEW YEAR and MAY ALL YOUR DEALS COME TRUE!

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Comments 5

  1. Great story and sage advice Cindy..thanks!
    Re: Met Mus Art. After a long hiatus from attending I was there recently for a private talk by the musical instrument department’s main consultant, Jose Obando. Afterwards, I looked thru the museum’s guide and made a stop at the Frank Lloyd Wright room, well worth the price of admission.
    Happy New Year to RAM’s friends & fans of Cindy’s prose. Let’s share our love of her blog to others.

  2. We liked the story of the Good, the Bad and the Settlement! Your expertise in RE and ART involves such a long process which, as it seems from the story, is both enjoyable and arduous with many opportunities for a deal that is win-win for all involved.

    Sending best wishes for a fantastic “win-win” REAL ART MUSE-Year!!!

    Ken and Maris

  3. Interesting article, Cindy. It is never easy to be taking the one taking the ‘fair’ view, and I like the tie in with bending your position to keep the rails greased for future relationships. It is a good lesson to be learned by all! Have a great New Year!

  4. “Know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.” Good advice from a wise woman who is schooled in the ways of the world!

  5. Acting as a strong conduit in any field, especially those centered around the creative, is never an easy task.
    To be able to bring together varying levels of people and institutions-in both business and otherwise-can be cut throat. Thankfully people like Cindy exist! She exemplifies ‘cool under pressure’ and can be tenacious with out compromising her high moral standards.

    Looking forward to more in 2014!

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