Authenticity, condition, provenance, merit, market trends, comparable sales records, artist’s oeuvre and importance, exhibition history, publications and literature, and analysis thereof are all factors assessed for a pre-purchase appraisal. Depending on the value the acquisition appraisal predicates whether this process can be completed formally, or informally as a consult. Correspondingly, consulting with an appraiser is savvy in order to prevent paying excessive markup, fraud, or acquiring spurious objects.
“Buy what you like, but do your homework. A big red flag should go up if the seller doesn’t have any provenance documentation.”
“True Story: A longtime client regularly calls me for my opinion on asking prices, since they are avid collectors and buy what they like. Often they are traveling and need to make a decision fairly quickly. Recently, they called inquiring about a painting they wanted which was being offered by a well-known dealer from the south. The asking price was $165,000.00, but the dealer had dropped the price overnight to $125,000—red flag. Quickly researching the painting, found that it had sold just a couple years earlier for $25,000.00 at auction. The dealer was presented with the information by the client and stated “they hadn’t caught that in their research,” and apologized. This particular dealer does business like this regularly, is known in the industry for this behavior, and we’ve encountered this tactic by this dealer more than once.
“Like the stock market, collecting art can be volatile, sometimes a good investment, and sometimes misrepresented.”