Education is your best ally when buying an expensive piece of art, as discussed in “Buying art: A cautionary tale,” from the Kansas City Star. Before making a first offer, you’ll need to know a lot about the artist—whether alive or dead, still active or retired—and just as importantly, who is selling the artwork. And while you may love the piece, be sure to have a good grasp on the artist’s popularity. If you don’t care about its market value, that’s fine, but you should know it before your purchase takes place.
Your knowledge about the art piece itself should encompass its condition, the fact that it’s signed and/or dated, the provenance or the history of ownership, and whether it’s included in the artists’ catalogue raisonné. You should also look into any recent sales by the artist and sales by comparable artists.
You should also know the seller and their reputation, and understand the terms of the sale. What is your recourse if there is a problem with the art? What is their commission on the sale? It is important to get the details.
After the purchase, you need to consider your long-term plan for the art. Think about whether you’d like this piece to be a gift to a museum or charitable organization. This is a common practice among art collectors … it’s a way to enhance their legacy and extend the enjoyment, education, and history of the piece by sharing with others.
Don’t forget to insure any artwork, whether it is a single valuable piece or an entire collection.
To avoid any future misunderstandings, speak with your heirs about your collection and your long term plans for it. They may treasure certain pieces just as you do, or they may not care for any of your collection. An estate planning attorney will have recommendations for how to handle transferring the artwork to your heirs and/or a museum or gallery, including making gifts of the artwork that will count as charitable deductions.
Reference: Kansas City Star (December 7, 2016) “Buying art: A cautionary tale”