Understanding the Art Market, Part III
Five Common-Sense Rules for Collectors


The art market may be bigger than ever today, but the basic rules of collecting have not changed much.

•Learn as much as you can about any artist who interests you. What are his or her key developmental periods? Major works? Most important subjects? What condition issues affect the work, and how should a work look if it is in good condition?

• Learn to understand the artist’s market. How do the foregoing issues influence prices?

• Don’t rely too much on extrinsic factors, such as exhibition and publication history. While provenance is important in determining whether the present seller has good title, a flashy history can inflate the price of the work.

• Educate yourself. Try to develop your eye and your intellect at the same time. If you must hire an advisor, find one who is genuinely knowledgeable and can help you learn.

•Don’t buy for investment. Pay an appropriate price and plan to enjoy the work for the long term. Slow appreciation in value is normal.

(Image: Legendary collectors Dorothy & Herb Vogel, who donated over 4,000 works to the National Gallery of Art.)

Part I: How The Market is Manipulated
Part II: What Do Auction Prices Really Mean?