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The TV of Telesales

The pandemic and the reopening of a market

By Gianfranco Gatta

In the beginning they were magicians and fortune tellers. Let’s talk about prehistory, when the first local televisions were born, late 70s, early 80s. In those years, the director of a well-known Roman broadcaster, with the ambition of creating a prestigious channel of information, told me that he could not send away a fortune teller, inherited from the old management, For how much money she was able to pay for the rent of the airing space: twice a week, she paid the monthly salaries of all the employees.

Another boasted that his news studio was nothing more than the bathroom, with a panel behind it with the Logo of the station on it. Heroic times well told in an old book, “The Wild Bunch” by Sandro Piccinini, one of the best football commentators.

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Un post condiviso da Andrea Masciaga (@nonepiudomenicaofficial)

Just football has been the flywheel of all the broadcasters scattered around the territory. Next came the pans for the kitchen, the mattresses and the sheets for the beds, the miraculous cosmetics and during the night, the erotic ads. The carpets, the antiques, the ancient paintings but above all the clocks arrived. There was everything, real and false merchandise, in a Wild West where all that was missing was the cart with the elixir of long life.

Born the phenomenon Wanna Marchi followed by the legendary Baffo of Cremona, to get to the Ancient Frattini. The latter was the protagonist of the first economic phenomenon in the sector: he first realized that a watch model of a prestigious brand would become a must, in the time of the yuppies. He bought it so much from making it unavailable on the market, and then siphoned the sale on television at twice the list price. A genius!

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Un post condiviso da Wanna Marchi (@wanna.marchi)

A bubble that lasts for about ten years, which ends with the arrival of strict consumer protection legislation. They remained the most serious, including prestigious art galleries. With the economic crisis of the 1990s, prices began to stabilize downwards, making the market stable but sufficiently profitable.

But since the 80s an event had begun that was confirmed in the following 90, until exploding exponentially from 2000 onwards: the presentation of Contemporary Art, thanks to Franco Boni, antiquarian for three generations and art historian, Since his youth, he was accustomed to attending all the most important artists, from the 50s onwards.

A friend of the group “La scuola di Piazza del Popolo”, formed by Mario Schifano, Tano Festa, Guido Angeli, Giosetta Fioroni and Renato Mambor, of whom he is the greatest admirer. Boni was the first to introduce Burri and Fontana, at modest prices, betting that they would reach the “record price”. From many derided and contrasted, it became a very popular television character, so much to deserve a hilarious parody by Corrado Guzzanti, much appreciated by Boni himself.

The economic crisis of 2008-2013 was a “bloodbath”. The affluence of the middle class began to dwindle, the streets famous for antique shops remained deserted, resulting in the closure of historic brands.

The TV market also changed. Almost everything disappeared: carpets, antique paintings, silver and porcelain. There were few jewels and few watches. They remained in a stable plan: Contemporary Art and diamonds in blister, IGI certified. This is because they were perceived by families as an alternative to shelter goods, since the housing market together with the stock market gave less guarantees.

The demand is no longer “on the deal” but on the average/low price; the bulk of the turnover is made by artists who cost between seven and eighteen thousand euros and diamonds from 0.30 to 0.75 carats. Money in safety, then.

In this period, another out-of-class Televendite was established: Carlo Vanoni. Considering him a salesman is reductive, his presentations are real lessons in Art History. Duchamp, Kandinskij, Warhol and many other protagonists of Contemporary Art are absorbed by a less accustomed audience, thanks to a disclosure that, although refined, remains simple and at the same time fascinating.

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Un post condiviso da Carlo Vanoni (@carlo__vanoni)

But the real value of these telesales is that sometimes paintings are presented that manage to move, both for their beauty and for the historical importance; works by Christo, Hopper Rothko, just to name a few, which can only be admired in a museum or in a large private collection.

And we come to the Covid, because for a year now it is always him to dictate the times, unfortunately.

Suddenly the lights of the carousel turn on and the machines start to move again. In telesales everything comes back: clothes, shoes, sheets, carpets, antiques, jewelry, watches, even Lalique vases that have not been seen in fifteen years.

The old paintings come back and all at absurd prices, off the market, compared to that of a year before. The pandemic has zeroed tourism, which corresponds to about 30% of the average household budget, families find money that they do not know how to spend, as certified by the ABI (Italian Banks Association) calculating 160 billion savings, in cash, of the Italians in the last year; from here the reopening of a market given for dead.

It’s like watching one of the final scenes of the movie “Trading places”, set in the New York Stock Exchange: “Buy, buy, buy... I buy, I buy, I buy... I buy, I buy, I buy…”


P.S. “Let’s give the Covid what belongs to the Covid”. The good news of the last hour: since because of the various lockdowns you are forced to stay at home, publishers record, for this year, an increase in turnover of 20%. Italians buy books too!