In January of 2015 my Luxury blog “Lorre White, ‘The Luxury Guru”www.LuxGuru.Typepad.com gave away 100+ VIP Art Monaco passes to my wealthy subscribers. Then I asked them to evaluate the event. After all, they are the target audience. I got a good cross section of wealthy art collectors, fine art professionals, and some artists that presented at the show. All were people that have attended many big international art events, so their comparisons and expertise would be exceptionally beneficial. Some spoke on the record and others wanted to be anonymous. I could not fit them all into an article, so I chose a small cross section that represented the different, yet equally important perspectives.
In an interview for an article I did with Johnessco Rodriguez, the owner of Art Monaco, prior to the 2015 event, he said “Art Monaco is certainly a pure platform that allows the combination of wealth, exclusivity, culture and art. It is not for the light of wallets but for the connoisseurs and adventurers to discover and give opportunities to the new grand painters of our time. Art Monaco is the perfect opportunity to gather friends, potential clients and contracts in a fully amazing arena of international art. Art Monaco is simply the venue where ART MEETS GLAMOUR!”
Art Monaco is about to host its 7th annual show October 27th to 30th, 2016. So is it worth the trip? Did it live up to its hype?
At last year’s show there were great pieces including an exclusive, never seen, 50 year old private collection of Jackson Pollocks. Other artist represented included Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Picasso, Michelangelo , Damian Hirts, Arman, Fontana, Yue Minjun, Liag Jian and of course some great emerging artists such as: Claudia Hecht, Bernard de SOUZY (who worked closely with Gerard Depardieu and a few other artists), Christine Zimmermann, Zivo , Dminc, Cui Jinzhe , Krie Alden, Thierry Blum, Tiffany Pilon, Suzuka Yoshida, and Peter Terrin.
If an event, just like any brand, disappoints the expectations of the consumer, the brand decreases in value. Not only does that consumer not return, they will prevent others in their sphere of influence from attending either. If the brand deflates, the event can’t get the quality sponsors, thus they can’t raise as much money to continue to innovate and expand. Thus they can’t attract the VIP attendees, and without the wealthy attending to purchase, they lose the quality level in art shown because of the lack of buyers.
All annual events must try to occur about the same time each year in order to develop any type of a following. Calendar jumping makes it to too difficult for people to schedule. It is best to never change venues, unless a new one is so far superior that it is worth the marketing risk of changing and losing any consistency. Constancy is part of a brands reputation. Last year Art Monaco changed both their venue and the time of year. The event dates are moving again this year from July to October. In 2015 for the first time, Art Monaco was moved from the Grimaldi Form to the Espace Fontvieille (home to Monaco’s circus). When the owner of Art Monaco was asked why, he stated “The Grimaldi Forum was good, however in Espace Fontvieille, the show will have more possibilities to be artistic, as it has less limitations in height of ceilings, restrictions on dates, but overall it has the freedom of being as vast in simplicity and elegance. The space offers multiple options for decoration and implementation from any type of show, sky is the limit!”
This comment lead people to expect an exceptional presentation. Also, I noticed that most of my Monegasque friends did not recognize the name ‘Espace Fontvieille’, but did know where the circus is held, which is the venues flagship event. Indeed it was created by King Rainier III specifically for that purpose. The lack of name recognition of the venue did add to the confusion.
Here is what several sage individuals that I sent VIP Art Monaco passes, share about their experience:
Lady de Rothschild at my invitation attended her first Art Monaco show. She did a great job of summing up most of the comments I heard from VIP attendees. Her insights and attention to details would be most beneficial to event organizers. “I have to say I felt over dressed for the black tie cocktail. There was very little in the way of cocktails at the evening events; Pommery stands, but no bubbly! And when they did, it was not enough for all! There was no parking and a lot of people complaining. The organizers could have made it better! Many of the booths where complaining that the Wi-Fi wasn't working. There was no air-conditioning in the tent. Sadly, the event was very badly organized!”, she said. I heard many suggest that Art Monaco should hire a different event planner, but since the owner of Art Monaco owns Opus, the company that organized this event, I think that highly unlikely, but perhaps instead they will hire people with a higher level of expertise in reaching the wealthier demographics.
“My sister in law really wanted to attend the outdoor morning yoga, but didn't manage to find any information” said Lady de Rothschild . “None of the event staff knew anything. There was no information on the website, or other social media.” She was definitely not alone in feeling that the event communication was weak. I had many of the people contact me about where the event was being held, on their way to attend. When an event changes venues they must over emphasis the new location. When returning guests start out at the wrong place, having to park twice, spend time lost, and are now running late, their experience has already been tainted. The Art Monaco website was very user unfriendly and gave very little real information. They did not reply to requests for information on a timely basis, if at all, on their social media. They seriously need a skilled luxury marketer to improve the all-around luxury experience!
In the end, Lady de Rothschild who did not have to travel to attend, was still glad that she went. “I did buy a few pieces from galleries, so that was nice. I did enjoy going, as I found some new additions to add to our collection. Thanks for thinking of me Lorre, and sending me the VIP passes. ” she said.
Elisabeth Zingerle-Vanduffel was a founder of the Fine Art Corporation, with offices in London-Paris-Brussels-Cannes. As a professional in the fine art world who regularly views art and attends shows she brought a business professional’s perspective. She felt that the presentation at Art Monaco was extremely poor. There was some world renown art represented like several Jackson Pollocks that should have been showcased, “ I saw them accident when exiting! They were badly positioned and didn't attract the eye” she said. She was not alone in this comment. Many expected some of the modern masters to have a more prominent position within the venue. Many agreed that Art Monaco needs to hire a professional designer to assist with the 2016 event, so that it will look more professional, and easier to find the art. Elisabeth Zingerle-Vanduffel gave several other examples where the galleries had done a poor presentation. “‘One contemporary piece had neon text in the art that only had it partly lit. I think that the Galleries should make the stands more agreeable and modern masters more prominently placed with in the venue."
Elisabeth Zingerle-Vanduffel also noted the lack of appropriate air-conditioning “It was very hot because of huge square spots in the ceilings of the chapiteaux”. She also remarked on the poor Wi-Fi within the venue.
Prince Michel de Yougoslavie brought a unique perspective, because last year he was not just an attendee, but an exhibitor. His photos won the prize for emotion. Here is what he had to say: ‘It was the first time that I participated as an artist, so I can’t compare that perspective with any other year. The art was very diverse, statues, sculptures, paintings and some photos, as well as people who sell art magazines and services. Most vendors or exhibitors were very friendly and came from a variety of countries like China, the US, Belgium, Canada, Australia, etc.”
He, like most everyone else, commented to the heat. “I understand that because of the extreme heat we had, many people did not show up, and also the date of July, many locals had left on vacation. In 2014 Art Monaco was in May, and in the Grimaldi Forum, which is more central and walking distance from the hotels. Some exhibitors who were there the previous year said that sales had been better in 2014.” I know that many of my Monegasque friends had left. It is common for the locals to leave in July-August when the tourist descend, much like New Yorkers head to the Hamptons for those months.
“The first 2 days were private invitation and had black tie events. The attendees were an elegant crowd and friendly people. The next days was a mix of locals and tourists. For next year, because of the heat it would be important to have more air conditioning, as well as a crowd of real buyers.” Said Price Michel de Yougoslavie .
“As an artist, I liked the fact that the people who were looking at my paintings were expressing their feelings and thoughts about them, and what they saw was not always what I saw in them, so it was a very enriching conversation. The fact that we were talking about inspiration, interpretation, photo subject was very cool and relaxing and interesting. There was one very old gentleman who was telling me what he saw, and that one of my photo was inspiring him to travel. Some young sisters were photographing my photos with their cell phones, they were 8 years old, giggling and enjoying themselves. I asked them what they liked and they told me really smart things, but with great candor, and smiles and laughs. I loved it.”
Price Michel has decided not to present in this year’s Art Monaco. Over-all sales were not as strong last year.
Sheikh Abdallah Shamsaldeen AL-FASSI enjoyed attending the event but did complain about several things appearing low brow “Wi-Fi was terrible, and there was no available parking. At the black tie event, water was offered to us in plastic cups (imagine!) and there were hardly any refreshments for a cocktail party, and in Monaco of all places! This was definitely not venue where ART MEETS GLAMOUR! I would suggest improving on many crucial factors for next year!”
What he liked best about Art Monaco was "The event allowed upcoming artists, to display their talents for all to see and feel proud of their creative work, thus asserting their confidence even further. On a personal note, I most enjoyed the wide contrast between the past and present, especially in reference to the paintings by Prince Lorenzo De Medici, and specifically the one of Queen Catherine de Medici of France, which was quite captivating as it celebrated Renaissance style with a contemporary touch, that being the eye catching contrast of the "Channel pendant symbol" attached to the beautiful string of pearls around Queen Catherine's neck, with the rest of the painting. That in itself added that special artistic embellishment by its creator, Prince Lorenzo De Medici; with whom I had the pleasure of meeting and discussing Renaissance history to the pin point of accuracy! Notwithstanding a number of artists such as Claudia Hecht, Michel De Yougoslavie, Massimo Garrigia, Ina Dederrer, to name a few, who all beautifully contributed to Art Monaco 2015. I thank my friend Lorre White, who graciously invited me to my first Art Monaco, and I look forward to attending again with her".
Technology offers hosts a 24/7 way to service their guests needs. Art Monaco’s social media to support the event was amateurish. Big events use hashtags on Twitter and photos on Instagram to create enthusiasm and keep people informed. Because there was an inadequate amount of twitter posts, and the few they did have, always took you off of twitter and on to Facebook. Questions went unanswered, and because of the poor Wi-Fi, it was laborious to use, if even possible. I know that I wound up with many new people on my social media pages, because I had more than the official #ArtMonaco did. Social media can be used to help attendees to find specific artist/galleries. Help manage expectations about issues like excessive heat, where they can get a drink at a cocktail party, remind people of venue change, or answers guest questions.
Art Monaco is blessed to carry the name Monaco. It’s location is a draw, and Monaco is synonymous with luxury. Because Art Monaco can never compete in size with big Art Shows like Art Basil, their only option is to present themselves as a more luxurious alternative. A show where there is still great art, but that the quality of the experience is more customized. It seems that it is all the luxurious things, and attention to details, that were to be Art Monaco’s differentiator, that was most lacking!
The owner is trying to position Art Monaco as the show for the more demanding consumer that expects a higher quality of life, and announced lifestyle additions to the event last year, like free outdoor morning yoga for all attendees, but then did not follow through. Experienced luxury marketers would have prevented most of the problems, and when an unforeseen tragedy occurs, skilled professionals would have been able to make the best of the situation to minimize the damage.
Unfortunately this year’s show will be managed by Opus Eventi the same company that has done such a poor job in the past. It will be interesting to see what hit Art Monaco 2016 will take from them changing dates AGAIN.
Many noted the lack of luxury sponsorships. Several half-jokingly recommended they get a ‘champagne sponsor’ so they would not have to be so frugal, or a water sponsor because of the heat and having to drink from what they hoped were clean plastic cups. Quality brand sponsors draws their fans and consumers to the event. This would also enable Art Monaco to afford to hire a better event organizer than Opus Eventi, hirer display designer(s), social media expertise, catering and of course libations. If it does not greatly improve this year it will no longer be a serious contender in the Art World. They seems to be teetering on the fence. The event needs to take fast action before the Art Monaco brand is tarnished beyond repair. This would not only take down Art Monaco, but its fledgling off shoot Art Monaco-Miami in the winter, too.
The good news is that Art Monaco has the potential of a good event! They did have some fabulous art. It is located in Monaco which is a very desirable destination. I had many of my VIP guests that purchased art. Most of the complaints are things easily fixed, and could have been prevented with better event planning and organizers trained for the specific expectations of reaching the UHNW demographic. On the balance, people were still glad they attended, even though it was not anything close to the ‘glamorous lifestyle event’ that Johnessco Rodriguez promised. Most said that if they were in the general area already they would probably attend again, but would not go out of their way to travel to such a poorly organized event.
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Lorre White is founder president/CEO of White Light Consulting, a luxury marketing consultancy focused on the ultra-high-net-worth market and a top international luxury influencer. Her clients include private jet companies, yachts, private banks, luxury media, prestige properties, 5 star hotels, tourism for states, regions, and countries, jewelry, International luxury events, etc.
Lorre is the only internationally recognized luxury media personality appearing on TV, radio, web and all forms of social media. NetBase 2015 luxury industry report ranks her blog #1 globally for reaching the UHNW consumer, and #3 of all luxury blogs including professional luxury industry blogs. Lorre frequently contributes to luxury magazines internationally, including having had her own monthly column in Portugal’s #1 rate luxury magazine DNLife. She is a luxury industry keynote speaker.
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