BY ALAN CAPPER
Most people think of art as beautiful paintings, sculpture and photography. There is a second art in the visual arts, and that is money. Occasionally the price of a classic painting at Christie’s or Sotheby’s is $30 million or more. The art world has a new extension to desirable art with photography and sculpture that are sold for increasingly staggering prices.
In Long Island City, RoGallery, an auction house founded more than 30 years ago by Robert Rogal, now the director of business and operations, occupies a 10,000-square-foot building that holds the gallery’s collection of modern and contemporary art including paintings, print, photographs and sculpture.
Rogal is a native New Yorker and has found that Long Island City is an ideal place for his business, highly attractive to its clients on the East Side and Manhattan itself. Rogal has always been involved with the world of art. Before opening the gallery, he was involved in a number of businesses backed by his expertise in corporate financial activity. Art was always an area of interest for him. Before opening the gallery he was very active in the world of franchising, with major clients including Alice’s Restaurants.
“I first became interested in art at college,” Rogal said. “I learned much about it and enjoyed what I learned. I’d become interested in adding my own business experience to the buying and selling of art and created the Ro Gallery.”
He established the gallery as a highly successful business that is greatly admired by clients and other members of the art community.
New items are brought into the gallery every day, and Robert attends estate sales and private and corporate collections. This is enormously important in order to attract the best possible work for sale privately, corporately and as prints.
Some of the names included in the gallery include Braque, Dali, Koons, Lichtenstein, Matisse, Newman, Picasso, Rivers and Wendell.
Although it is not unknown for Robert to sell paintings for six figures, a look at recent auction catalogues shows a wide spectrum of choice and price. Recent pieces include a print by Robert Rauschenberg, a Warhol for $4,500 and two David Hockney prints using a ‘60s-style photocopying technique for $60-80,000.
“Taking the position in the art auction world does mean constantly searching sources of the finest work that could be available for our clients,” he said.
The gallery has been in the forefront when it comes to e-commerce on its RoGallery.com website.
“The continued expansion of this kind of buying is something we have embraced and developed from the very beginning,” Rogal said. “It is a growing attraction to buyers because they can look in detail at reproductions of the work that they are interested in, purchase as soon as they have decided and hopefully not be beaten by another buyer.”
“I believe that this is about the future, and we will expand further and further,” Rogal said. “The thing that excites me most is the hunt.”
The diversity of the art auction market is enormous. The gallery’s publishing of lithographs, posters and prints increase the range of sales opportunities and the gallery’s revenue base.
“The art market has become more competitive each year, clients have become more knowledgeable, forgeries of original works have continued and the value of artwork [is] increasing,” he said.
Whatever changes there are in buying, auctions and collection sales, Long Island City’s major addition to the world of art will continue to develop and provide the finest work that Rogal’s research will find.