A woman came in to a gallery and really liked a particular painting by a local artist. But instead of buying it, she went home, googled the artist's name, found her website and contact info, and called the artist to ask if she could purchase the painting directly from the artist. I'm sure she thought she could get the painting for a lower price because they were cutting out the middle man -- the gallery.
Wisely, the artist very politely thanked the woman for her interest and then equally politely told her that all sales needed to go through the gallery. The potential buyer never returned to the gallery to buy the painting. So in being honest, the artist (and the gallery) lost a sale. But what would the artist have lost if she'd gone the other way?
Obviously, if the gallery had found out about it, she probably would have lost her chances of ever selling in the gallery again. Gallery owners do talk to one another, so she may also have lost her reputation, at least in the general region where she lives. And in gaining the reputation among collectors as someone who is willing to undercut the price of her work, she might have also destroyed the long-term monetary value in her work. That seems like a lot to lose for the price of one painting.
What do you think? Did she make the right call? Have you ever been faced with an ethical dilemma?