Buying art for investment

Many people buy artworks, making the purchase a suitable investment is another thing from simply liking the work or the artist. Here is a list of nine ways to be certain the works you want to get for investment will be worth it in the end and make a rock solid investment.

Image courtesy of Dan from

Image courtesy of Dan from

  1. Buy things you like, for the most part you will have the item for an extended period, if you like it you are less likely to sell it in a rush and want a premium for it. If it is hung at home you will enjoy the investment more.
  2. Buy top quality. Top-quality items are expensive; however, can appreciate even in poorer market times. Medium-quality items may only keep pace with inflation. Limit yourself to a medium where top quality is within your budget.
  3. Maintain the item properly with appropriate environmental conditions and regular maintenance. If repairs are required, they should be done by well-trained experts.
  4. Keep good records, when it was bought, how much it cost are al important things to know to figure out the return on your investments.
  5. Insure the item adequately. Most homeowner policies allow for fire and theft but not natural disasters, such as floods or accidents. Have your works included on a scheduled form of all risks for coverage in the event of theft, fire or breakage.
  6. Know the artist, research them, do they have a solid background of winning suitable high level awards? Do they exhibit and produce regularly? Are they well represented in commercial galleries? Are they held in reasonable regard by critics, their peers etc? Does their work have conceptual depth… is the supporting ideas and though processes behind the work consistent and have depth?
  7. Know the style, medium, techniques, similar works and artists. There are many styles, techniques and similar works and artists know all about them so your collection can be built from a knowledge base rather than an “I like it approach”. First and foremost it is an investment, like a blue chip company on the share-market you want to know that it has a solid foundation. Do your ‘due diligence’ as you would on any investment.
  8. Think Blue Chip, There are thousands of artists and artworks on the market, you want to buy works from those who produce blue chip works – The works will last, done to a quality standard. The artist is supported by critical acclaim and peer reviews
  9. They sell well, In the secondary market, auction houses etc. The works by an artist in your collection readily sells and is purchased at a higher value than what it was bought for. This applies mainly to older artists and those from history. A number of younger artists and some galleries may offer works for sale by auction to build an artists reputation early in the auction arena. Research is important here.
  10. You bought it where? Galleries of all types abound, some are renown for the style of works they carry, some will sell anything, some have a focus on framing and the gallery is secondary to them. Other galleries can be artist run spaces and may be seen as a platform for showcasing newer artists and project works. Know about the gallery you want to purchase from, discuss with them the investment potential of the works you are wanting to buy. Buying online can be fraught with challenges, not seeing the works, knowing most people online seem to buy a ‘bargain’ rather than buy for quality sake, let the buyer beware.

Art can be a very practical investment opportunity, like anything you need to know what you are getting into. Will it appreciate in value, will you be stuck with something you can’t sell? There will be many questions, in the end it’s up to you to decide, but please do so with the solid support of knowledge through practical and well informed research.


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