……And Not Get Taken!
Dr Gachet by Vincent Van Gogh
So, you want to buy a work of art. Great,
now ask yourself this simple question, Why?
• Are you buying it to decorate your
• Are you buying it as an investment?
• Are you looking for a piece that will
become an heirloom?
Jeff Koons' "Balloon Dog" sold for $58.4
If you only want something to decorate your
home and do not care about it lasting as an
heirloom or increasing in value, then you are in
luck. This is very easy.
1. pick a budget and stick to it.
2. look online for the artist’s work to see if it is listed somewhere else
for less money.
3. Ask the seller if they would be willing to take a slightly lower price.
4. Decide if you are willing to accept a reproduction (print) at a lower
price or if you really must have an original.
5. buy it and enjoy!
Now let’s assume that you want
a piece of art as an investment
or heirloom. Here is where it all
gets a little tricky.
1. First, decide whether you trust the dealer.
When buying a piece of artwork that you want
to increase in value, it is good to buy from
reputable sources or directly from the artist.
2. BEWARE THE, “TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE” DEAL.
THERE ARE LOTS OF FRAUDS OUT THERE!
Even the best collectors can be fooled. Peggy Guggenheim bought the painting (above), believing it to be
part of Fernand Léger's "Contraste de Formes” paintings. It has recently been proven to be a fake, due to
WWII bomb dust on the canvas. The painting was said to have been made around 1913 well before
1. Research the artist. Where
has this artist shown his work?
Is he easily found on the
internet? If not, that is a red
2. Can you find this artist’s work
for lesser prices at other
3. Ask the dealer if he is willing
to give it to you for a discount.
4. Ask the dealer if he has other
works of art by that artist that you
could see. There’s almost always
something more in the back room.
You can almost always haggle a
little with dealers and no price is
set in stone.
Try to contact the artist
personally…..assuming it is a living artist.
1. Sometimes contacting an artist
personally can help you to secure
the best prices. Also, you can hear
directly from the artist about her
process and ideas.
Furthermore, you can get on the
artist’s personal mailing list and be
privy to future events/sales of her
2. Keep in mind, that if an artist has a
relationship with a gallery, they
ethically cannot undermine their
gallery's prices and may have to
share their sales with the gallery.
painter Pat Passlof
Buying in person
1. If you are in physical proximity to the piece
you are contemplating purchasing, try to
get the dealer to let you handle it. If it is a
painting, look on the back.
2. Examine how well it has been framed and if
the canvas was stretched evenly.
3. Look for notes from the artist on the back
or stickers indicating earlier sales prices.
4. Ask if you can examine it in the sunlight to
see its true colors.
5. Look for cracking or other poor
Approach galleries at off-peak hours for the
best personal service.
If you are buying online, contact
the sales agent and ask lots of
1. Ask if there are any additional photos of the work,
particularly installation photos. This will help you see how it
might fit in your home.
2. Ask if they will ship it for free.
3. Ask if they will frame it at a discount.
4. Ask if they know the artist or if it is just a clearing house for
5. If you don’t feel you are getting good personal service, shop
1. The provenance is all the paperwork
that follows a painting. Ask for this
information. The dealer should be
able to provide you with information
relating to other shows the work has
been in, as well as past sales, media
coverage of the artist or
artwork, etc. Gather as much as you
2. If you do buy the artwork, keep all
your receipts and paperwork in case
you want to sell it later.
Diana and Actaeon by Titian has a full
provenance covering its passage
through several owners and four
countries since it was painted for Philip
II of Spain in the 1550s.
If you are buying a rather expensive work
of art, don’t be afraid to ask for an
1. You might have to pay for it
yourself, but it can give you piece
of mind and authenticate the
work. There is also a chance that
it has already been appraised, in
which case the dealer can
provide you with the certificate
2. Do your research!
This da vinci painting was recently
discovered. It could appraise for millions
Source: The Telegraph.
Establish a budget, but be realistic.
Artwork is not cheap, especially artwork
by established artists that increases in
value and will stand the test of time.
Keep in mind that galleries keep 50% of
the asking price and framing costs are
also quite high. Most artists are not
getting rich off their art, but do want a
With that said, there is a lot of great
artwork out there and you should be able
to find something within almost any
budget. Just do your research.
“A Good Day’s Work” Bruce Black
FINALLY, BUY WHAT YOU LIKE, BUT LISTEN
TO THE PROFESSIONALS.
1. Buy what you personally enjoy and
would want in your home. This way,
you are almost guaranteed to have a
happy buying process and to enjoy
the work for a long time to come.
2. However, listen to the what the
professionals have to say about a
particular style or artist. Visit
museums to see the best examples of
that style. Visit lots of galleries and
talk to the owners. Read about the
history of the styles you enjoy. Then
buy what you like and take it home!
“Falling Apart” Bruce Black
If you enjoyed this slide show,
please “like” it on social
media and visit the personal
website of artist and teacher
Bruce Black at