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How to buy art

We asked Jason Carey, Director, Impressionist & Modern Art, at Christie’s for his advice on what to bear in mind if you want to build an art collection:


1) Do your research

As with any investment, the importance of research can’t be overstated. Provenance and authenticity are paramount and understanding the market context by checking the price precedent of similar works will ensure you’re informed. Although notes in auction and exhibition catalogues are useful, the best approach is personal - talk to people to get first-hand insights. Auction house experts, as well as gallerists, dealers and curators, love to share knowledge.


2) An artwork is a living object

Collectors should be fully appraised of the condition of a work and any historical restoration as well as the relevant conservation practices to maintain its condition. For example, your Picasso work on paper will be worth more to the market in 10 years if it is installed in an acid-free setting, behind UV reflective glass and hung out of direct sunlight.


3) Trust your taste and instinct and buy for passion

Advisors are certainly beneficial to consult when discussing elements of price and commerciality, however, it’s important to buy work that resonates with you personally. While value and appreciation potential are important, anything you buy and hang at home should bring you enjoyment.


4) Don’t be put off by the prices that make the headlines

While headlines in the media tend to focus on the multi-million pound record breaking lots that sell at auction, works of art by leading names, across periods, can be bought for under £10,000, sometimes with prices starting around the £1,000 mark.

Credit: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O'), 1955. Oil on canvas. 44 7/8 x 57 5/8 in. (114 x 146.4 cm.) © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2015