A recent Kansas City Star article, “Buying art: A cautionary tale,” tells us what we need to know before and after making a purchase. Education about the artist is crucial. This includes knowing whether he or she’s alive or deceased and who’s representing the artist. It might be a dealer, estate, family, or the artist himself or herself. In addition, it is important to know if the works are representative or in high demand, along with the market for this artist.
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 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.
Your heirs also may or may not want your art, but you should discuss the issue with them to lessen any potential misunderstandings and hard feelings. A trusted advisor can be a valuable asset in this process and your estate planning attorney should have the experience and expertise to assist you and your family.
Reference: Kansas City Star (December 7, 2016) “Buying art: A cautionary tale”