In The Pandemic, Young Folks Discover Antiques For Zoom And Nostalgia

Like Eleni, she’s found viral fame through TikTok, and a video she made from footage of the Calabasas sale has nearly a million views on the app.
While Gen Z descends on estate sales and antique stores, a slightly older, slightly wealthier generation is making its way into the high-end arts scene. Stuck inside with disposable income and nowhere to spend it, wealthy 30-somethings have been driving a market that’s traditionally been confined to ultra-rich elites.

Art dealers Daniel and Dori Rootenberg are the directors of Jacaranda, a New York City-based gallery founded in 2007 that sells high-end historic art to collectors and museums. Thanks to the emerging market, their business hasn’t skipped a beat over the last year.

“The demographics of our area of art has always skewed older, but younger people are getting into it,” Daniel said. “We were thinking it was going to be a terrible year, but it’s been the exact opposite.”

Daniel, a native of South Africa, and Dori, a native New Yorker with a degree in art history, specialize in art from Africa, Oceania and North America. They had nearly hit their 2021 sales forecast already by February. They said they’ve sold art to LACMA and every other major museum in the country, and their pieces — African Dan masks, Zulu ear plugs, 1,000-year-old tattoo needles, etc. — range from $500 to $500,000.

“We’ve sold fish hooks for $10,000,” Daniel said.

Traditionally, their buyer base has been limited to museums and collectors on the coasts, but these days, they’re finding customers who are simply looking for something beautiful for their home.

“That’s the beauty of the internet,” Dori said. “People are comfortable spending $100,000 on a piece literally based on a picture.”

The couple run a physical gallery from their pre-war apartment in New York, with art shelves lining the foyer and prized pieces filling the living spaces. They still do in-person showings on occasion, but these days, most of the action happens online — which is perfect during a year of lockdowns.

“People can’t travel during the pandemic, so this appeals to their sense of wanderlust,” Dori said. “They can get something that comes from an exotic place with an interesting story without leaving their home and can talk about it when friends come over.”

Daniel hunts for new pieces while Dori reaches out to potential buyers on Instagram. They publish online art catalogs and also create videos that display the pieces from every angle to make sure buyers can get as close as possible to experiencing the art before they buy it.

To keep up with the new generation of buyers, the Rootenbergs joke that they will need to figure out TikTok for their next big campaign. In a few years, they might not be joking.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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