Bearings salesman by day, art dealer to the stars by night, Richard Quartley is not your typical international cultural tastemaker.
A softly-spoken, unassuming family man from the small village of Breaston, Derbyshire, in the British countryside, Richard spent most of his career managing local sports centers, before making the move into selling bearings (small mechanical parts that support the rotating shaft inside machinery) to clients including farmers and car manufacturers a few years ago.
It’s an unlikely career trajectory for a man who has now built a reputation as a leading art curator and dealer, with Madonna, Sharon Stone and Boy George among those keeping an eye on his work.
Richard, 52, began sharing eclectic art that caught his eye on his Instagram account around five years ago, and has now amassed 165,000 followers including some of the most respected names in the art world. Then, after he was furloughed from his job during the coronavirus lockdown, he took advantage of the extra spare time to turn his passion into a business, and now sells art online via his Instagram and website.
“I’m not trained in art in any way,” he says. “I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler! But that’s why I appreciate artists’ talents.
“I think the appeal I have is I’m very eclectic, people don’t know what’s coming next. It can be something serious, something sad or something ridiculous. I just hate anything boring.”
Hollywood actress Stone is a keen follower of Richard’s Instagram feed, and the pair have even built a friendship via exchanging direct messages on the site. Madonna has shared his posts with her 16 million followers. Designer Christian Lacroix and illustrator David Downton are also among his followers who appreciate his eye for imagery.
So now, Richard is making some of his favorite pieces available through his site, having gathered around 40 of his favorite artists he has met through his Instagram interactions to sell their work. Business got off to a good start, selling a portrait of Princess Diana by Israel Zohar to a Los Angeles museum for $85,000 earlier this year. But he is trying to offer something for all his followers’ pocket depths, with pieces ranging from around $100 to tens of thousands.
Here are some of his inside tips of artists to watch, with all pieces available to buy on his site.
Interior No.32 by Jaco Putker
Jaco Putker is a contemporary artist and printmaker from The Hague in the Netherlands. He combines digital and traditional techniques to produce images which are both playful and sinister, nostalgic and magical.
Member of the Human Race: Etude 1 by Tania Rivilis
Tania is a Russian artist now living in Germany. She entered the art world aged 27, and quickly developed her own unique way of painting. She is an absolute specialist in the form of male portraits with many of Tania’s historically themed works now hanging in museums in Moscow. Great investment pieces.
Nearest Wormhole by Mikel Roman
Mikel Roman is a multidisciplinary artist who hails from Barcelona, Spain. He creates acrylic and oil surreal situations, with visual poetry weaving together personal and archetypal symbols through a language inspired by nature, dreams and parallel realities. Many of Mikel’s works can be viewed in contemporary galleries, and he’s a very talented musician too.
Alter Girl by Liz Pounsett
Liz Pounsett creates art part-time… but not for that much longer I’m thinking. She has a curious eye and works on gut instinct with her collage work. Most definitely one to watch as she it to collaborate shortly with art icon David Hockney.
Ghost Model by Tom Mullany
Tom Mullany is a versatile painter, illustrator and sculptor from Washington DC. A specialist in gauche, Tom’s work is hung all over the USA and around the world too.
Bohemian Dreamer by Maria Kiriakov
Maria Kiriakov, a Bulgarian living for the past 20 years in Canada, is a true artist in my mind, Maria’s work explores themes of personal and cultural nostalgia. She aims to preserve cultural traditions by translating the past to the present and views her projects as magical retrospectives that invite us to remember the past as we look for solutions to today’s problems.
Milk Maid by Israel Zohar
Israel Zohar a classically trained artist paying tribute to Vermeer here. Moving to London in the 1980s from Israel, Zohar was commissioned by Kensington Palace in 1990 to paint Princess Diana. Richard Quartley Art secured the sale of Zohar’s own portrait of Diana (from his private collection) to the Princess Diana Museum in Los Angeles, where his legacy will be viewed by millions and live on forever.