What smart collectors do before they buy

First Principles

  • Love what you're buying
  • Research and evaluate before buying your works of art
  • Choose works that move you toward a collection

Before you buy, be able to answer following questions:


(1) Who is the artist?

  1. Date of the artist’s birth and death (if applicable).

  2. Where does the artist live and work?

  3. Where, when and with whom has the artist studied?

  4. Which organizations does the artist belong to?

  5. At which galleries, museums or institutions has the artist has exhibited?

  6. Has she or he had one-person shows or group shows with other artists?

  7. Which awards, prizes, grants and honors has the artist received?

  8. Which public, private, or corporate collectors owns work by the artist?

  9. What positions has the artist held? (resident artist, professor, teacher, lecturer, writer, and so on)

  10. Which publications mention the artist? (online art sites, books, catalogues, magazines)


(2) Why am I buying it?

  1. Why do I like it?

  2. Do I like the subject matters, what it represents, the colors, the historical aspects, the lives of the artists?

  3. Does it make me feel a certain way, does it represent an important truth for me?

  4. Do I admire its technical aspects?

  5. Does it make me see life differently?

  6. Is it that it's old, new, local, foreign, big, small, round, square, whatever?


(3) Investment potential


  1. How much do I care about investment potential for this work?

  2. How significant is the art?

  3. How does it fit into the spectrum of similarly collectible works

  4. What is its provenance, history, and documentation (or more simply, where has the art been and who's owned it)?

  5. Who is selling it?

  6. Who is promoting the artist? (gallerist, collector, museums etc).

  7. Does the asking price feel fair?

  8. How are similar works selling at auction?

  9. Are prices increasing or decreasing?

  10. Will I be selling in the short-term (want clear evidence of price increases) versus long-term?

  11. Am I comfortable with the level of risk involved in this purchase?