World-Leading Art Market Expert Shares Insights Into ‘How To Collect Art’ With Accessible Paperback

Arts & Celebrities

Whether it’s an original work by Leonardo da Vinci, a copy, or a workshop painting, there’s no denying that paying more than $450 million for Salvator Mundi to store the oil on panel on a yacht is obscene and absurd. Everyone from Saudi Arabian royals to first-time collectors could benefit from sage advice on navigating the wildly inefficient and unpredictable global art market.

“Investing in art can be lucrative, but this holds true primarily for a select few at the pinnacle of the market, typically artists represented by the same five to ten galleries. The remaining artworks, constituting 99.9% of the available pieces, generally do not share the same investment potential,” said Magnus Resch, a world-leading art market economist, entrepreneur, and best-selling book author. “While purchasing what you genuinely adore is the recommended approach, my book delves into strategies for ensuring you don’t overspend on any art acquisitions”

How to Collect Art by Resch, with an introduction by businesswoman and art collector Pamela J. Joyner, follows Resch’s 2021 book, How To Become A Successful Artist, and Management of Art Galleries (2016), also published by Phaidon and offering a singular perspective on a marketplace that can be intimidating, especially to newcomers. Resch, a lecturer at Yale University who previously taught at Columbia, breaks down the fundamentals to help aspiring art owners build a collection.

At $34.95, the 232-page paperback offers more than a one-time value by empowering prospective buyers with the skills to seek out and buy artworks at the best price, and for aesthetic pleasure and profound fulfillment. Resch conveys complex concepts and variables with a thoughtful and accessible voice amplified by a deep well of research and knowledge while eschewing jargon and insider arrogance.

“I call it responsible buying, the notion that buying art is not just an exchange of monetary value but also a philanthropic act. Far from putting money into an asset, I donate it, knowing that in all likelihood I won’t be able to resell the piece, But by buying it, I am supporting the artist so that she can continue creating art, which in turn inspires her artistic community to continue with this essential form of human creativity,” Resch. “To me, it is a way of doing good, and it comes with an object that I love and a story to tell.”

The United States was the leading art market worldwide in 2023, generating 42% of global art market value, followed by China at 19%, and the United Kingdom at 17%, according to Statista. The global art market is more dynamic than ever, with over 763,000 artworks changing hands, according to Artprice. Still, new entrants face fears and questions in a marketplace that thrives on stirring controversy and celebrating record-breaking sales that alienate most would-be collectors.

For my book, I examined 500,000 artists and their pricing strategies to uncover the key factors that determine what makes an artist a great investment. Our findings revealed that an artist’s success is closely tied to the network of galleries they are associated with. Collecting from this network significantly increases the likelihood of a positive return on your investment. Pricing in this category typically begins at over $100,000,” explained Resch.

I’m fascinated by the creative process and witnessing how artists create their work, and that connection underscores my desire to acquire certain works. Resch clearly agrees.

“As a collector, the artist becomes a crucial counterpart in your acquisition. In line with the concept of responsible buying, acquiring artwork means embracing the emotional essence that the artist presents, along with becoming a part of the artist’s surrounding network,” Resch said. “Therefore, getting to know the artist should be an integral aspect of your collecting journey. Additionally, most artists enjoy meeting their buyers.”

Resch offers sound advice on the core questions a prospective buyer should ask before considering a purchase.

Do I like the work, the gallery and the artist? What institutions has the artist exhibited in? Does the asking price align with my budget? In my book, I introduce a framework to assist readers in estimating price points and assessing the fairness of the asking price,” Resch recommended. “Armed with this knowledge, navigating the art market becomes a more confident and informed experience. It enables you to spend money with a clear understanding of the artwork’s value, ensuring a purchase that resonates with both personal taste and financial sense.”

Calculating the price of an artwork is a multifaceted process that varies considerably, and may not be scrutinized by the buyer. Buying any artwork is an investment, even if the goal isn’t to sell at a higher price at a later date, and moreover, it’s an allocation of funds that works differently than a typical asset class with defined benchmarks, metrics, and risk considerations. Don’t be intimidated when spending your hard-earned money.

In the art market, it’s common for customers to request and receive a 10% discount, especially if the customer opts for immediate payment,” Resch advised. “Discounts are not extended for only a select few highly sought-after artists. It’s important to note that customers typically bear the shipping costs.”

Recognizing the intricacies of any art sale, some people may benefit from working with an art adviser who can demystify the journey and make it a joyful experience.

“Engaging an art advisor can be beneficial for two primary reasons. First, for education: new collectors often value the research conducted by art advisors on their behalf. Second, for access: artists in high demand are often only available to collectors with established dealer relationships and credibility with galleries, which an advisor can provide,” Resch said. “I would argue that you don’t need an advisor if you plan to spend less than $100,000 per year. Exploring galleries, engaging with artists, and discovering new talents on Instagram are integral parts of the journey, and it’s fun.”


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