If you don't love art, and are simply considering buying art as an investment, the best advice is to find something else to invest in. Collecting and buying art should be a labor of love, not a cold-hearted financial calculation. When buying art there are many factors that a serious art collector should look at in order to get the best deal. In no particular order they are:
1. Know Your budget
No matter how much you like an art piece, don't put yourself in enormous debt to acquire it. If you can't afford it, so be it. Just let it go and wait for something to show up that fits your budget. No art collector in the world gets every piece he is attracted to.
2. Know Your Art Dealers
Once you know what kind of art you like, find the galleries that sell it. Introduce yourself to the gallery owners. Form a relationship with them. Let them know what types of art pieces you're interested in. Then when they get a new piece or art in, your name will be near the top of the list of people that they notify. This is an excellent way to get first crack at art pieces that normal people will never see, because they simply are never put up for sale. Developing relationships with reputable art dealers also helps to protect you from scams. You can have faith that the art pieces you get are original pieces and not simply knock-offs. Also, if you come to love the work of a particular artist, you may find that his or her work is carried primarily through a particular dealer. All the more reason to become friendly with as many art dealers as you can.
3. Know Your Own Tastes
Never buy something just because an "art expert" tells you that it is a beautiful, classic piece of art. If the art piece means nothing to you, it's not worth you buying it. Unless you're a professional trader, the art piece you buy is going to be something that you own and look at for years. So choose art that speaks to you. And to do that, you need to know what you like and what you don't like. An important secondary benefit of knowing your taste is it gives you the ability to clearly state your desires to art dealers that you work with to help build your collection.
4. Negotiate the Price
Just because an art piece has a price tag on it does not mean that you have to pay that price. Art prices are not set in stone. Don't be afraid of dickering with dealers. In most cases it's even expected.
5. Insure Your Art
There are few things more devastating than losing your art treasures through fire or theft. But the financial losses can possibly even be worse.
Whenever you buy a piece of collectible art, call your insurance broker and make sure she includes it on your policy. If you have a good homeowners policy, it will probably already provide general coverage. But if you have art pieces that are documented collectible items, you want to definitely ensure that this is noted on your policy - even if you have to buy an additional rider for it. It's also important to note that insurance will not only cover things like fire and theft, as mentioned above. It will also cover things like water damage, breakage, moving, and so on. Now go out and start collecting. Good luck and much success in your art buying.
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