investing in art – your own fakes, mistakes and discoveries
26 July 2010 § 1 Comment
With the recent opening of the fascinating – if often incomplete –exhibition at the National Gallery in London entitled Close Examination; Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries, it seems like a good idea to run through some key points to consider when buying, collecting or investing in art.
Please note that these are however just a few of the main guiding ‘rules’. Although all are brief many could be expanded to fill a book, for every rule listed there is another that could be added and for each unbreakable ‘law’ there will be many notable exceptions. Please use as basic guidance and in future I will expand and expound.
1. Specialise. Find something you really like and try and find out all you know about it. Be your own ‘expert’ – enjoy researching and discovering all you can about the artist and their work.
2. Buy art you like. Better still, that you are passionate about. Don’t be tempted with something you don’t like but think is cheap or a good investment. A recipe for disaster!
3. Buy trademark works. Stick to the artists key styles, types of work. If an artists is famous for street scenes, don’t buy a nude. If his oils are world-renowned, don’t buy a watercolour. Fancy a Warhol gouache? I thought not.
3. Buy quality. Never buy second best. Even in a poor market the best will always resell – there will always be a collector who wants the best. It will keep its value better, and increase more than anything inferior. Cheap works are a false economy.
4. Use an expert & build a relationship. Would you buy a car off a kerbside trader? Yes? Then don’t invest in art! Use a consultant or stick to a gallery (or two) that you really trust. Find a specialist in your preferred style. Collections formed using the expertise of dealers, experts and consultants are always the best – look at any great collection of any visual arts or antiques and they are all done with a long-term relationship with an expert.
5. Be patient. The right works will not come along just like that. You may have to wait, build contacts, persuade, wheedle and charm. It is not always easy to get what you want!
6. Avoid editions. Unless you are using an expert try to avoid them. Not only are editions a minefield of over-priced and over hyped work – from Salvador Dali to Thomas Kinkade – but fakes abound. If you want something that will appreciate in value it is tougher when there may anything from 5 to 5,000 of them to appreciate – and that is just your particular edition. ‘Limited’ is hardly the way to describe them! ‘Signed’ – well, I should damn well hope so! Generally why not stick to unique works or, if you have to, very small editions.
7. Provenance. A difficult one. Provenance authenticates the work and can increase the value if it shows that it has been in important collections, with well-respected owners or featured in important auctions. Unfortunately much is faked. Ideally see original sales/auction receipts, gallery stickers, get the view of a recognised expert. Never buy without provenance and beware ‘Certificates of Authenticity’, most of which are not worth the paper they are written on.
8. Market hype. If everyone is talking about an artist and they are splashed around the papers, then you have probably missed the point to invest. If you have a work – it is the time to sell!
9. Watch trends. If, for example, India and Brazil are on everyone’s lips think very carefully about buying a Canadian artist (actually unless you live in Canada always think carefully about it!). If conceptual art is fashionable should you be buying a realist painting? Even if realism or Canadian artists start to get more recognition, your works were probably not significant when made and may never ‘catch up’ or be ‘relevant’.
10. Condition. Buy in the very best condition, and keep it like that! Display and store the work properly – and of course insure it.
There is so much more to say – but for more you will have to wait – other than for this one golden tip (do I really need to say it?) DON’T buy on Ebay!
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- Close Examination: Fakes, mistakes and discoveries at the National Gallery, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- What lies beneath: the fakes, mistakes and discoveries at the National Gallery (telegraph.co.uk)