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A Newbie’s Guide to Investing In Art

Plenty of art lovers casually collect pieces that they’ll enjoy displaying in their home. To the value of the pieces they collect doesn’t necessarily matter; they scope out local talent, pick what they love, and display it proudly. If that’s you, then we’ve got some tips that’ll guide you in selecting a few pieces to round out your collection.

When it comes to simply choosing a few pieces for your home, the number one rule is that there are no rules. However, collecting art as an investment requires an entirely different approach. We’ve compiled a few tips from experienced art collectors to help you get started investing in art.

Check Out Local Fairs

Pascal Spengemann, the director of Marlborough Chelsea, recommends visiting art fairs, as they contain many more pieces of art than a gallery and dealers are ready to make sales. While it’s a good idea to be educated before you visit, most dealers are more than happy to tell you all about the artist and the art itself. Don’t be shy about asking for the price up front, and be prepared to haggle a little. According to Spengemann, “You can ask price right away, and it’s common for a collector to ask for a 10 percent discount.”

Expand Your Book Collection

Bill Powers, the founder of Half Gallery in New York City, says that an art book collection is a great way to surround yourself with bodies of work. There are three main types of art books to know: the monograph, which is a history of an artist’s professional works, catalogs for museums, which are pretty easy to get, and gallery shows, which are a little rarer.

If possible, get your hands on signed art books. “Then you have the artist’s hand in the work,” Powers explains. “Isn’t that what everyone is looking for?”

Set a Budget

There are several factors that can affect what a piece of art costs. How well-established the gallery is, how rare a piece is, whether it is being bought directly from the artist or was previously owned, and what mediums are used can all drive the price up. Erica Waldbaum of Artvest, a New York-based art investment advisory firm, recommends determining just how much you want to spend, particularly if you’re going to be attending an auction. According to Waldbaum, “Budgets are especially important if you’re planning to buy at auction because it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the auction room and overspend.”

Don’t Buy What You Love

Herein lies the biggest difference between choosing art for pleasure and investing in art. Doug Woodham, author and Managing Partner of Art Fiduciary Advisors, an advisory practice based in New York City, states that the classic advice “buy what you love” is “generally terrible advice for new collectors.” According to Woodbaum, before you buy something financially meaningful, you should get input from knowledgeable, experienced collectors.

Dipping your toes into the world of art investing can be an intimidating undertaking. Taking your time to do your research and rub shoulders with experienced investors is key in getting your hands on pieces that may one day significantly increase in value.

Mike LaTour - Co-founder Mike LaTour  Soundwave Art
2019 Finalist - Digital Innovation In Art Award

I spent 17 years in the music industry and have always had a love of art. Combining music, sound, and art was a perfect fit.

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