Valencia Tong

Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Eric Wolf

Second Advisor

Betsy Thomas


The purpose of this study is to examine whether art gallerists are replaceable in the current climate in which the plea for removing the middlemen has been growing. The speed and ease of art transactions through digital platforms provide an alternative to the relationship-based in-person elements of the art world. Before the pandemic, the art market was seen as notoriously opaque, and gallerists have been stereotyped as middlemen who take high commission from art sales. However, art gallerists have played an important role throughout art history, not only buying and selling works of art like traders, but also shaping the art historical narrative by championing important artists. They influence the tastes of major collectors and place art into the most significant museum collections to preserve art for the next generation. Through tracing our roots within the history of art dealing, this thesis focuses on examining the influence and legacy of three different art dealers, Joseph Duveen, Peggy Guggenheim and Leo Castelli, to examine whether gallerists are replaceable or indispensable.