Building a Collection Can Take a Lifetime. Don’t Rush the Details When Selling Your Work

Jul 24, 2017

Art collectors spend years building up a collection of work. Many rotate their art between walls and storage. Depending on the value and/or cultural significance of the work, some collectors may also loan out work to institutions such as galleries and museums. That being said, collections often evolve with times, taste, and financial considerations. There are many reasons why a collector might want to eventually part with accrued artwork. And when collectors do decide to sell, the available options and considerations can be overwhelming.

Aimee Pflieger has 20 years of experience working at arts related organizations including research roles at Indiana University Art Museum and sales promotions for modern and contemporary art galleries. She suggests that collectors have a variety of reasons for selling their pieces and many ways to accomplish this.

As a collector, you should have a clear idea of your motivations for perusing a sale. This is important because there are several venues for selling work and each may have a better chance of achieving your expectations.

While galleries and art dealers are the most common sales channels, Pflieger highlights auctions as the most transparent venue that can offer the greatest financial outcome for selling work.

Bettina Huang, having previously worked in the Contemporary Art department at Christie’s and recently joined Artsy in 2017, advocates that there are many different auction houses across the world with each having their own specialty. Huang points out that the success of a sale is highly dependent on the choice of auction house and its desired reach for the type of art you are selling. For example, highly specialized work often does better at smaller venues, particular those with a narrower target of potential buyers. Keep in mind that auction houses come in many shapes and sizes. Once uncommon, online auctions are becoming an increasinglyrespected and effective forum when selling work.

Keep in mind that when selling work, a good strategy that many collectors employ istomaintain an element of exclusivity. This can be achieved by being selective on would-be auction houses or sales venues.

If buyers have previously seen the work for sale, they may infer that the work has had a difficult time being sold. This is compounded by the fact that today’s buyers can easily search results from past auctions (including prices as well as unsold works!) that didn’t find a buyer.

Above all, if you’re a collector who is selling, take the time to get an appraisal from a professional. The Appraisers Association of America website can help you find a local licenced appraiser who can help you take stock of your collection and guide you to a sales venue that is right for you.

To learn more about your options to maximize your financial result, watch How to Approach Selling Your Collection. Watch Now!


Matt Beasant

Matt Beasant is a self-taught Canadian artist and experienced writer, born and raised in Northwestern Ontario. Represented by established Canadian Galleries, Matt has exhibited at the Artist Project Contemporary Art Fair and the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in 2016. His work is characterized by crisp lines and bold gradients which are applied by hand using many thin layers of paint –...

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