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The Rules that Must Be Remembered When Selling a Piece of Art – Flux Magazine

The Rules that Must Be Remembered When Selling a Piece of Art

words Al Woods

When you decide to sell a work of art, you will first encounter two questions: how to sell it and when? Is it worth selling through a gallery or a dealer? And how is this best done (if you have a choice)? To begin with, the collector must find out which works of art the selected auction house or dealer specializes in selling.

In addition, you should consider that some works are much better sold in certain areas, so you should also consider the location of the auction house and all the associated costs of sale. Thus, one New York collector knew very well that the most successful market for the sale of his work of German neo-expressionist is Berlin, but he wondered whether it makes sense to send to EU freeports prepared for sale large painting, given the high cost of transporting it from New York. The painting was not among the very expensive works (less than $ 20,000), so it was decided that the shipment will not pay off, and the work was put up for sale in New York. As a result, unfortunately, it left at a minimum price.

Auction houses and dealers prefer to take for sale only those objects for which they expect to find a buyer. However, not all works are easy to sell, and for some the market is not at all obvious. Sometimes there are situations where a collector may prefer to donate or give away a work of art to avoid paying income tax.

Selling a Piece of Art

Auction sale

Some works are worth selling at auctions, others are not. The advantage of an auction sale is that the seller can attract the attention of several potential buyers at the same time and thus stimulate an increase in the auction price. In addition, the auction process for large sales allows you to expand your marketing campaign using advertising and exhibitions, which can fuel interest in the object. After all, the auction market is quite transparent; sellers know when their work will be sold and can observe the process.

The disadvantage of selling at auctions is that the seller must adjust to the auction calendar, which is not always convenient. A work that you have provided for sale in the summer may not be auctioned until November. In smaller regional auction houses, the sales process is usually much faster as the whole process of preparation – cataloging, marketing, exhibitions, etc. – is not so thoroughly organized. As a rule, payment is made 35 days after the sale, but there were cases when the funds from the sale did not arrive at the agreed time, and the seller had to take the payment process under his own control.

Selling your Art

Sale at auction sites is not without risks. Auctions are held in public, so some collectors are afraid to put their works on them. If the object is recognizable, then many may be interested in the reasons for its sale: are they not related to the financial difficulties? If the work is not sold, it will also become immediately known: a work that has been taken off sale will be considered “burned” and subsequently difficult to sell, at least in the near future, and at the desired price. To return such work to sale, the owner will need to “rehabilitate” it: remove it from the market for a period of time and, if possible, hand it over for participation in exhibitions with a good reputation. This takes time.

Sometimes, before trying to sell work through an auction house, the collector will have to remember if he has any special arrangements with the dealer from whom he originally purchased the work. It is important to remember that in the primary market dealers like to control the sale of the work of the artists they represent, and even if the collector has not signed a first refusal agreement, the agent may expect the work to be sold through his gallery later. And ignoring these expectations can have negative consequences.


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