|Many art collectors are influenced by three
of these motivating factors. Determining
their relative importance to you is the first
step you should take before becoming serious
about buying art. The basic motivations behind
collecting art are: |
- Aesthetics - If you begin collecting because you like
beautiful things, continue heeding the oft-repeated
maxim in the art world: buy what you love.
Let your own tastes dictate what you buy.
Do not buy something that you dislike in
order to impress others. Judge pieces solely
on their merits. Give only secondary consideration
to the name of the artist, and to whether
or not that person is famous or in demand.
- Investment - In recent years, it has become increasingly
common for financial advisors to suggest
buying art as an investment. While this strategy
can pay off handsomely if you choose wisely,
it nonetheless is far from a sure bet. Predicting
which artists and which works will command
lofty prices years, perhaps decades, hence
is a difficult, if not impossible, proposition.
Moreover, art is a highly illiquid market.
It may be difficult both to sell a work reasonably
quickly and also to realize its fair value.
Determining “fair value” is a highly subjective
and inexact process in itself. Finding a
buyer who is willing to pay this theoretic
“fair value” to you is an added challenge.
Accordingly, only relatively wealthy individuals
should consider holding a significant proportion
of their assets in the form of art.
- Impressing others - For people whose buying of art is motivated
by this impulse, what they collect will be
determined by whom they are trying to impress.
For example, if you are trying to look chic,
avant-garde, or cutting edge, that will dictate
radically different buying choices than if
you want to appear traditional and understated.
If your pockets are deep enough, one time-honored
method for impressing people is buying works
by “big name” artists, with the genre being
an entirely secondary consideration.
A semi-retired art dealer told us about a
client who compiled a long list of famous
artists and set out to acquire one work by
each. To do this cheaply, the client sought
their worst available works. The result was
an extensive and costly collection, filled
with big names, but unimpressive nonetheless.
By going for quantity rather than quality,
the supposedly thrifty collector actually
wasted much of his money. The lesson: it
usually is wiser to spend more on one fine
piece than to spend the same amount on several
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