The Art of Buying Art

In a previous post I discussed three core elements of how someone can start an art collection. In this post, I’d like to talk dollars and sense. I’ve broken down the basics into the following streamlined principles of art collecting: Three do’s & don’ts, and three golden rules. It’s easy to spend money on art. I’d hoping to help guide you to spending money on art wisely.

The Do’s & Don’ts:

  • Do buy what you love
  • Don’t buy to impress or to be an art investor
  • Do consider inherent value when buying

The Golden Rules:

  1. Establish a budget, and commit to being patient. It’s better to buy one single great painting every year,  exhausting your entire annual budget, than it is to fritter away your budget on a roomful of lesser paintings. Focusing on reaching for the best, and being patient, will provide a path to the best results. As my father always advised, “Great collections happen over time, not overnight.”
  2. Vetting a work. As a buyer it’s important bring due diligence to the table. You’ll should feel confident the party you are buying art from has both expertise and integrity. Prior to purchasing an artwork you’ll want to understand the history and provenance of the piece, its authenticity, condition, and if there is a guarantee. These are all things a good dealer or gallery will offer as a matter of course in their business practice.
  3. Value. Try to buy nines and tens, rather than the “bargain” threes or fours which will always and forever be…threes and fours. Feel free to ask a seller if there might be a discount available, or a payment plan. Also ask if the seller offers a buy-back or upgrade program as your collecting goals and needs change.
Remember when it comes to buying art the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.

Published by Caldwell Gallery Hudson

Jay Caldwell is principal of Caldwell Gallery Hudson. He brings 35 years experience to the art of dealing fine art.

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