For Jeffrey Loria, Whether It Comes to Art or Baseball, It's All About Making Money
Now that Jeffrey Loria is the most hated man in baseball after lying to everyone in Miami to get a brand new stadium, then dismantling his team one year later, it's worth looking back at his career as a hugely successful art dealer. Considering that he's proved beyond any doubt he cares more about money more than he does about baseball, maybe we should have looked at his art dealing days sooner.
The fact that an art dealer amassed enough money to buy a major league sports team still seems odd. Of course, Loria only came to own the Marlins in the first place thanks to a Bud Selig-assisted Montral screwjob (one that would make the WWE blush).
But his ascension as the slimiest owner in baseball is also illuminated by Loria's art dealings. His work in the art market surprisingly parallels his dealings as an MLB owner.
Locally, perhaps we think of art dealers as Wynwood hipsters who throw cool parties for emerging artists and actually, at least in part, do it for their love of art. Maybe we think of the art dealers who descend on Miami en masse during Art Basel Miami Beach who throw cooler parties for international known emerging artists and actually, at least in part, do it for their love of art.
This is not the kind of art dealer Jeffrey Loria is or ever was.
After majoring in art history at Yale, Loria got his start in the art market by working for Sears. No, not any sort of emerging art scene, but, yes, some department store. He recruited horror actor Vincent Price to help hawk original art through Sears. That endeavor was ultimately unsuccessful, but Loria used his experience to launch his own company, Jeffrey H. Loria & Co. Inc.
Even independently, Loria was not the kind of art dealer who sought out and nurtured young artists. Rather, he trafficked in already established big names.
Does buying and selling big named entities all willy nilly not sound a little bit like how he's managed the Marlins?
"I spent most of my career dealing in masters -- major artists of the 20th century," he told a Yale alumni website in 2003. "They were established artists long before I came along. I did not discover any artists. I dealt as a private dealer for my entire career. I never really wanted to have a gallery or have shows."
Perhaps that explains his approach to reassembling the Marlins during the 2011 off-season: buying big names instead of trying to nurture emerging talent. Loria clearly has no patience for that sort of thing whether it be in art of sport.