Watching Amar Singh in action—endlessly pacing and talking on the phone—one could easily imagine him trading stocks on the Nasdaq rather than buying and selling NFTs. However, it soon becomes clear that, despite sharing the ruthlessness of top traders, the art dealer is an unusual hybrid of activist and businessman, putting much of his profits into championing historically excluded female artists, artists of color, and LGBTQ+ artists.
While skeptics may question Singh’s motivations, he comes from a long line of social activists. Most notably, his grandmother Veena Singh famously campaigned for women’s education alongside India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. As a member of the erstwhile Kapurthala Royal Family, Amar recently leveraged his privileged position to join other campaigners publicly pushing the Indian government to decriminalize homosexuality, which it finally did in 2018.
This activist perspective is also a major component of his art business. When he opened his eponymous London gallery in 2016, Singh spent the early stages of his career dealing and acquiring works by women artists involved in Abstract Expressionism, particularly Grace Hartigan and Elaine de Kooning. This gave him a unique niche in a city flooded with galleries, and showed off strong instincts in identifying untapped markets. Earlier this week, a painting by Hartigan fetched a near-record $462,000, more than three times its high estimate, at Christie’s.
While he says he largely avoids the “bloodbath of contemporary art,” Singh’s more forays into the market for the new have also focused on women artists, including virtual exhibitions featuring feminist groups like the Guerrilla Girls and Rewind Collective.
The commitment paid off. When Christie’s executives were seeking to capitalize on their $69 million sale of Beeple’s NFT Everydays—The First 5,000 Days, they quickly partnered with Singh to organize the auction house’s second major NFT sale in April, pairing physical works by female Abstract Expressionist painters with custom NFTs by Rewind Collective.