Ten Things That Successful Art Collectors Do
A successful art collector will develop focus and organization, not collect everything
that catches their eye. They will develop a purpose and cultivate a level of
sophistication, and as their collection grows and develops, they will become less
random and arbitrary. In a refined art collection every piece will fit and make sense
with every other piece. Refined tastes are developed over time; people frequently
over-estimate their good taste as a guide to quality.
Good collectors purchase the best quality artworks that they can afford and they sell
with reluctance - the best quality artworks will better hold their value or appreciate in
value over time.
Prosperous art collectors buy for the long term. It’s very expensive to sell art. By long
term I mean 15 to 20 years, minimum. Collectors will have winners and losers when
they do sell, but with care and time, they should do well. That said, you need to
diversify into other instruments to stabilize your portfolio. Value the richness art brings
to our offices and homes which can’t be monetized.
A good art collector will start with a vision of what they like and then get educated. It’s
important to buy art that you like and that you’ll be able to live with. That being said,
always try to educate your eye. Educate yourself - it can’t be said enough. It’s
important to understand what’s going on in the art world and to understand where the
art you prefer fits in. Collecting art, particularly international art, should be done with
an art advisor to help reduce the chance of a mis-step. Also, it’s particularly buyer
beware when you’re buying art on vacations - you’re more vulnerable to scams and
poor quality when you’re buying outside of your marketplace.
Good collectors will attend events and openings at private and public art galleries and
will visit artist-run centers to get a perspective of what’s happening in the art world.
They will talk to gallery personnel, artists and experts about the art they’re interested
in. They’ll attend lectures and talks that are given by curators. They’ll cultivate
friendships with other collectors and find out what they’ve learned. They’ll read books
on art history and books about collecting art and subscribe to a few art magazines on
line or hard copy.
Successful collectors will exercise their due diligence before purchasing an artwork,
or will hire an art advisor to do so. A sales person in a gallery may or may not be well
informed. An art advisor can check the value, condition and provenance of the
artwork or hire other professionals if needed.
A successful collector understands that an important element to good collecting is
documenting their art. You will be able to sell artworks with good documentation
faster and for more money. Good documentation will also increase your appreciation
and understanding of the artwork. Retain invoices, receipts, statements of
provenance, copies of the results of any scientific work performed (examinations,
conservation, restoration) and other relevant materials.
Good collectors develop a relationship with the dealers who sell the artwork they
collect. They develop an understanding for the marketplace in which the properties
they’re interested in trade. Knowing the marketplace and the dealers helps prevent
you from overpaying.
Successful collectors benefit from the experience of professional art advisors / art
consultants / art appraisers. Working with one of these professionals is a good way to
learn about art collecting. They will guide you through the process of purchasing art
or act on your behalf, help you understand the marketplace, introduce you to dealers,
professionally document your collection and in the case of qualified appraisers
appraise your art collection.
Prudent collectors will ensure that their investment is protected by an accurate level
of insurance. Ensure that the artworks in your collection are properly valued every
five years. Collectors do not want to pay for insurance they don’t need, but they need
to be sure they are carrying enough insurance. They would be wise to have their art
investment protected by a current appraisal in the event of a loss claim.
Angel, Sara. The six habits of highly successful art collectors. The Globe and Mail.
August 30, 2012.
Bamberger, Alan. How To Collect Art Like A Pro - Building A Collection. ArtBusiness.com
Johnson, Anna. How To Start An Art Collection With $1,000 Or Less. The Guardian.
October 14, 2013.
Williams-Russell, Maria. Advice For The Beginner Art Collector. Art_Review. October 23,
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