When Celebrities Buy Your Art: Should You Promote It?

Hmm, just wondering about bragging rights and wrongs. A few years ago we were at the Ojai festival and this woman came in with a man. She was petite and he looked like a hipster. She had a cap and sunglasses on with some cool pink flats. He had skinny jeans on. The woman said "I love your work, so I will take one of those, 2 of these, and 4 of those." I kept my cool, and told Pete, "Honey, can you start wrapping these while I ring her up."

The woman seemed to be in a hurry. She quickly whipped out her credit card, and asked us to hold them for her while she checked out the fair. When she walked away, Pete and I were stunned beyond belief--no one has ever thrown that type of cash down. A girl who was working the next door booth ran over to us, and asked us "do you know who that was?" Pete answered, "someone with a lot of money." The little girl replied, "No, that is the Prada girl, you know the actress, Princess Diaries chick." We were kind of clueless because we don't go to the movies. Anyway, the woman came back shortly, picked up her paintings and rushed off. Later I looked up who she was on the internet and learned about Anne Hathaway. I did not disclose the sale publicly. It seemed she did not want publicity because of the way she dressed and how fast she was in and out of our booth. Yet I wondered if I should have tweeted or facebooked this good fortune. On the one hand promoting this encounter could have helped our little biz, but on the other hand, isn't that a bit exploitive? 

We got some feedback from our fans, Stacy Tanner said: “It wouldn't have been wrong to promote your good fortune. Ms. Hathaway's celebrity status comes at the price of being recognized wherever she goes. This awareness almost (but not really) balances out the paycheck she commands. And if she were to gripe about your bragging rights, well, any publicity is good publicity. Struggling artists unite.  :-) And congrats on a great sale!!" Other fans like Dawn Madore said "we did the right thing" by not tweeting it or promoting it when it happened. 

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