Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Selling art through an auction house

If you have work you would like to sell at an auction house, contact the specialist that deals with the type of work you are selling. Submit photographs of the artwork and information such as artist, title, size, medium, date and provenance so the specialist can evaluate the work. Auction houses give free estimates to establish the auction value.

If the work is accepted, the auction house will recommend an appropriate season and venue. You will need to fill out a consignment agreement that states the terms of the sale, the reserve price and the commission details. The work then needs to go to the auction house for cataloging and photography.

The charges associated with selling at auction are shipping, framing, buyer’s premium and commissions, illustration fee for reproduction in catalogues, insurance charges and possible buy back charges. Sellers pay the auction house a commission that is deducted, along with any expenses, from the hammer price.

Shortly after the sale, a sale’s result form will be sent to you with information regarding the final sales price, the seller's commission and other charges that were agreed upon. Payment should be received within 35 days of the sale. However, the seller’s payment is subject to the buyer's payment being received. It is sometimes possible for a seller to achieve better prices when selling at auction. Other times, the work may not sell at all.

Regardless of whether or not the auction house successfully sells your work at auction, the auction house still takes the associated fees.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Selling art at a gallery

If you own artwork and would like to sell it at a gallery, call the appropriate gallery to see if they are interested in what you are offering. If they express interest, submit photographs of the artwork and information including artist, title, size, medium, date, provenance and price.

If you do not know the fair market price for the work, the gallerist can help you. The seller needs to make sure that the work is "retail ready" before it enters the gallery. The gallery will usually cover costs for promotion, documentation, insurance, shipping and presentation.

The options for selling are an immediate sale or consignment sale. In an immediate sale the work is paid for upfront by the gallery. With work on consignment, a consignment form is issued stating the commission terms and agreement. A seller's commission typically ranges from 20-30% of the sale price and is paid to the seller shortly after the sale of the work. Consignment contracts generally run from 6 months to a year and are renewable by mutual consent.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Buying art at an auction

Auctions are exciting live events where you can buy some of the most desirable work on the market and witness record-breaking sales. Anyone who wins the bidding process can acquire work at auction, making the process more democratic than buying through a gallery.

The basic steps to buying at auction are researching, registering, bidding, paying and obtaining your item. Catalogues of upcoming auctions are available a few weeks prior to a sale, and you can call and request a copy. As works at auction are bought "as is," visit the preview to inspect the work and evaluate it up close. Specialists from the auction house can assist you before or during an auction with information about the artwork such as its condition and provenance.

To register, auction houses request bidders to submit official identification and basic financial information in order to qualify to bid. You may bid in-person, through an agent, written bid, absentee bid or telephone bid.

A bid is considered a legal and binding commitment to purchase artwork. If you want to bid in person, you will need to register for a paddle in advance. The paddle is numbered to identify you to the auctioneer. To place a bid, simply raise your paddle until the auctioneer acknowledges you. Auctioneers are very good at noticing paddle movements in the crowd; therefore, waving a paddle furiously to get their attention is not necessary. Since auctions are live events, you have very limited time to make your decision to buy. A bid is placed against another in increments decided by the auctioneer until a final bid wins. Pay close attention while bidding as to not over-bid.

At auction, artworks are given a low and high estimate based on previous auction records of comparable works. Artworks are subject to a reserve, which is a confidential minimum price below which a consignor will not sell the work. Works that do not make the reserve are considered "bought in." The purchase price to the buyer is the hammer price plus a buyer's premium and any applicable sales tax. Therefore, the price that you buy the work for at the auction is increased by around 20%.

After a successful bid, go to the accounting department at the auction house to make payment arrangements. You may pay in person or by invoice via mail. After payment has cleared, you may pick up artwork from the auction house or arrange for it to be shipped at your expense.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Buying art at a gallery

Gallerists are passionate about the art they exhibit and spend much of their time discussing the significance and the context in which the artwork is situated. Getting to know a gallerist and supporting many artists from the same gallery over a long period of time can foster closer relationships and may result in gaining access to more desirable art.

Although galleries may be intimidating, if you are interested in a particular work, do not hesitate to speak to the sales associate and find out as much information as possible about the artist. There is usually a binder with the artist’s resume, press releases and articles at the reception area of the gallery.

If you do not see a price list, feel free to ask for one. Price lists contain information about price, name, media, size and date of artwork. A red dot next to the price indicates that the work has been sold. A half of red dot or green dot means that the work is on hold.

In a gallery, the price of an artwork is established based on the career level of the artist, production costs and the market demand for the work. Generally, work that is in greater demand commands a higher price. Due to the fast-paced nature of the art business, pricing and availability of artwork is subject to change at any time. Although there are no time restraints when buying at a gallery, confirm your interest as soon as you make a decision in case another client is interested.

After you decide to make a purchase, the gallery will issue you an invoice. A gallery invoice reflects the price of the work, shipping charges and any applicable sales tax. Sales tax varies based on location. Some galleries offer payment plans, and it is perfectly acceptable to ask about return and exchange policies. Never assume that a price is negotiable since some art dealers give discounts and others do not. For example, dealers rarely give discounts on work that is in high demand. For more available work, discounts of 10% are common, and sometimes a 15 – 20% discount is given to an existing client or a client who buys several works at one time.

If you are buying a work that is part of an exhibition, it is customary for the work to remain at the gallery until the exhibition closes. You may pick up artwork from the gallery or have it shipped, usually at your expense.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Where to buy fine art

Building your collection with reputable art professionals whom you trust is essential. Below are the art industry standards:

Art Advisors/ Art Consultants
Art consultants help collectors develop their personal taste and collecting focus. They maintain close relationships with galleries and auction houses and help collectors gain access to important work they may not have access to otherwise. At times, they administer private deals where artwork is traded privately. They do not hold inventory and generally work on commission or have a set fee.

Art Fairs
International art fairs are very popular venues to view the international art market, buy art and meet the experts. Most major cities have one or more fairs featuring hundreds of galleries from around the world at one location. Art fairs are similar to large conventions where visitors network and deals are made on-site and at after-parties around the clock. If you are going to a fair with the intent to buy, be sure to collect information about art that interests you as you move throughout the fair and be prepared to make quick decisions.

Auction Houses
Auction houses host public sales where artwork is sold to the highest bidder. Auctions are free and open to the public. There is no obligation to bid when you attend the auction.

Galleries are privately run exhibition spaces that are free and open to the public. The services that galleries provide range from exhibitions, education, publications, curatorial advice, appraisals, sales and resales.

Non-Profit Spaces
Non-profit galleries have various missions and offer artists the resources and space to mount exhibitions that are typically more experimental than those found in commercial galleries. Although sales are not the primary focus of non-profits, acquiring work from an exhibition is certainly possible. Non-profits often host annual auction benefits, which provide collectors with a great opportunity to buy work, sometimes at very affordable prices.

Online Venues
Online venues bring buyers and sellers together through the internet. The internet has greatly expanded the volume and accelerated the speed at which the art market now moves. Artists, galleries and auction houses have become more accessible making proximity less important. Even though you can buy work online, try to view the work in person before making a final decision. If this is not possible, ask about buying the work upon approval for a specified period of time.

Private Art Dealers
Private art dealers offer similar services as galleries except for the fact that they work from non-public spaces and do not present exhibitions. They are usually open by appointment only.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

First Steps To Collecting Art

The first steps to collecting fine art are defining your taste and understanding the art market. To become familiar with a wide range of venues and artwork, visit a variety of art galleries, artist studios, art fairs, auction houses and museum exhibitions. Stay informed of the major developments in the international art world through art magazines, catalogues, books and online resources. Although researching takes time, it is instrumental to making informed decisions as to what, when and where to buy.

Some important items to keep in mind as you look at art is the quality, authenticity, condition, provenance and value of artwork, as well as exhibition, press and sales history of artists. The credentials and history of galleries and auction houses should also be considered. Most importantly, art collectors should build a trusting relationship with art dealers while buying work that will make them happy for a long time.