Maria Brito: The Business of Art

The inimitable New York art advisor, author and creativity champion spoke to us about curating a vibrant world among global art stars.

By Petra Mason

Maria Brito is one of those enviable people capable of effortlessly articulating a newsletter or TED Talk while taking the pulse of the art world, all the while looking like a Bond Girl. “Chic is cool, but being clever is even better,” quips the Venezuelan-born Harvard Law School Graduate turned art advisor, curator and author. Working with budgets that start at $25 000 and go well over $1 million for a project (excluding her fee), Maria acts as a purchasing proxy for clients and stays on the lookout for works by established, mid-career, and emerging artists.

My first glimpse of Maria was late one Art Basel Miami Beach afternoon, as she glided through a sea of VVIPs towards the Goodman Gallery booth. There she met senior curator of the Goodman Gallery, Neil Dundas, a man in shades and a Gucci T-shirt was in tow. Neil described an art piece to Maria and without skipping a beat, she reviewed the price tag, plastic changed hands and Maria left, followed by the celebrity and his entourage. Fifteen years ago, Maria abandoned the legal profession, along with its all-nighters and what she describes as “obsolete corporate thinking”, in favour of becoming the person she wanted to be: an art advisor, curator, and author. She was already living in New York’s Chelsea art district surrounded by galleries and started building her own collection of mostly paintings. Maria took the leap, launching her art-buying consultancy with a small client base of high-net-worth individuals who trusted her guidance. Her tenacity and talent for recommending aesthetically pleasing artworks, likely to increase in value, got her friends buying and soon the artists became friends, as did the gallerists.

“I’ve really loved working with Maria,” muses New York street artist Swoon over the sound of police sirens. “I’ve found her to be extraordinarily brave and heartful. That’s a thing that is never unappreciated in the art world. Maria is unapologetically glamorous. She is so real and present, fiery and compassionate. I have felt seen by her. She takes the time to understand the depth and breadth of an artist’s practice.”

Describing the New York art world as electrifying and citing “open mindedness and loyalty” as qualities she most appreciates in clients, Maria has not looked back, affirming that “the best is yet to come”.

Maria on the business of art:

ON BUILDING AN ART COLLECTION …It’s hard to give advice on a business that’s become extremely complex in the last 10years. I’d tell people to hire an advisor to help navigate a $68 billion market with competence and confidence.

ON HER PERSONAL STYLE…I don’t have one specific shopping source and I’m not partial to just one brand. I shop mostly online from places like Farfetch and Net-a-Porter.

ON BEING THE ART ADVISOR OF CHOICE TO NEW YORKERS IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY …This happened mostly through referrals. My clients appreciate my tenacity and expertise. The art market has become an enormous behemoth and there are way too many galleries and artists. The competition is fierce when it comes to securing the best works byt he best artists. I’m almost always able to get what my clients want.

ON ARTISTS TO WATCH ACROSS ALL DISCIPLINES IN 2024…Wynnie Mynerva, Studio Lenca, Grace Carney,Maia Cruz Palileo, Olivia Sterling, Carrie Rudd and Eva Helene Pade.

ON HER PASSION FOR COLOUR AND PAINT…Colour is life. It invigorates me to look at beautiful things and to feel the energy of artists who communicate with bold hues and outstanding colour palettes. It’s a privilege to be surrounded by art and to share in the stories these artists have to tell us.

ON HER CAREER HIGH POINTS TO DATE…The publishing of my new book, How Creativity Rules the World, which is a bestseller and recipient of several book awards. As well as my TEDxtalk at the University of Mississippi, and building incredible art collections for my amazing clients.

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