Weekend Warrior: Commercial real estate broker Mark Goodman has an affinity for the finer things in life

Goodman has an art collection that puts many galleries to shame

“Every piece has a story,” says Mark Goodman as he walks through his office in Vancouver’s South Granville neighbourhood, showing off works from the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

For instance, a print of Crying Girl by celebrated New York artist Lichtenstein sits above his desk. “We don’t know how many there are; he didn’t number them,” says Goodman. When he originally saw a similar print being sold by someone in Vienna, he almost jumped. “They sent images, video. But when you’re buying and selling globally with people you don’t know, there’s a trust factor. In real estate, we’re highly regulated. In the art world, it’s the wild west.”

Goodman had video calls and back-and-forth emails with the seller, but something wasn’t right. “My spidey sense was going off,” he remembers. “I sent all the images to one of the foremost specialists here in Vancouver. She compared it to the last seven auctions, lined up the Ben Day dots and said it was a fraud.” The same expert ended up sourcing Goodman an authentic Crying Girl.

Below and beside it, respectively, sit Dollar Sign by Warhol and Untitled (Head) by Basquiat. Those two were easier to authenticate due to the amount of research that has been put into the artists’ bodies of work. “They’re investments,” says Goodman. “Kind of like buying stocks or gold.” But one gets the sense that it’s much more than that.

Goodman has a story, too. His father, David Goodman, founded Goodman Commercial Inc. in 1983. His mother is renowned artist Lilian Broca. The son the two produced appears to be as close to an exact 50/50 split of his parents as one can get.

Goodman started in the family business soon after graduating from university. He took the company’s fabled Goodman Report, which piles in real estate stats and commentary, online. The print newsletter is still published twice a year (often with pictures of art Goodman owns on the cover—with the artist’s permission, of course). He officially took over when his father retired five years ago.

Goodman’s interest in art was spurred by six months backpacking through Europe. (Meeting his wife—Erika Balcombe, who today teaches anthropology and design at UBC and Kwantlen Polytechnic—in university also wouldn’t have hurt his appreciation for the finer things.

These days, Goodman’s office more closely resembles a museum than anything else. As we move through the space, he starts and stops abruptly, never going more than six or seven feet without pausing to offer thoughts on a piece by an artist like Vancouver’s Douglas Coupland (“I’ve had dinner with him; he’s got such a brilliant mind”) or Toronto-based up-and-comer Peter D. Harris. “His inspiration is this theme of vacancy,” Goodman notes on the latter. “During COVID, I was driving to work every day for two years and everything was vacant and empty. I think he’ll be discovered on a bigger scale. But I didn’t buy it with the intention to move it. If he pops, great.”

Goodman’s office is a short drive from his house. There, visitors are warmly greeted by works by Coupland (I Just Want to Lick It) and Warhol (Marilyn Monroe). Downstairs, where his teenage son spends most of his time, Banksy hangs out with Xbox controllers while a spare room is completely stacked with works that Goodman himself admits are a little darker, like Warhol’s Electric Chair and William Betts’s surveillance-themed Fifth Avenue.

Balcombe keeps a desk on the top floor where, she notes, it’s “much calmer.” Up here are two works from German colour theorist Josef Albers that Balcombe calls her favourites in the collection. Also here, sitting inconspicuously down a hallway between two bedrooms, is Warhol’s iconic Tomato Soup.

“There’s three I don’t think I could ever let go of,” says Goodman, referencing Tomato Soup, Untitled (Head) and Crying Girl.

“There are different categories of art collectors where there’s meaning and investment,” he explains. “For me, it’s about the emotional and visual impact that I get. And maybe that I want others to feel, too.”

Warrior Spotlight

Goodman Commercial has been in business for over 40 years, first under David Goodman and now under his son Mark. The company primarily handles commercial and apartment deals. In 2021, Goodman Commercial oversaw 39 deals worth over half a billion dollars in sales. The last couple of years have been slower, mostly due to inflation and high interest rates. Goodman anticipates that will change soon—but, he laughs, “If things don’t get any better, maybe I’ll have to take the Warhols off the wall.”