While thinking about this topic I realized that it would probably take two or three newsletters to cover all the options. Much of the information that is needed when you are looking to buy a painting is also needed when you want to sell it - take a little time - do your homework - learn about your options and the item you want to sell.
In this month’s newsletter I will start at the beginning …learning more about the item you are selling and what your basic options are.
First, and foremost, you need to know a little about the item you are selling. Today, with the Internet, it is easier than ever to learn about your works of art. To begin, try typing the artist’s name into a search engine and see what comes up. If the artist is fairly well known, you are bound to get some results that can put you on the right path. Try to find a gallery, or two, that specializes in the artist. Make a few phone calls. Talk with the dealers and try to learn more about your particular work. Remember, that the same factors come into play when you are selling as when you are buying … price will be determined by the artist, period, size, condition, quality, and subject matter.
Learn about the particular artist’s style or styles; try to determine when your work was done … is it an early work or a late work; was it done in the artist’s signature style; is the subject matter commercially appealing? All of these factors will play a role in determining the price you can ask for the work.
Next, you need to determine what a fair price is for your work of art. Take a little time to search out people who have sold similar works. Try to find out if a similar painting by the artist has sold at a recent auction, or find an appraiser who can place a value on the work. Once you have determined a fair price it is then time to look for a buyer.
There are a number of ways to offer your work for sale: at an auction; outright sale to a gallery; offering the work to a gallery on consignment; and retailing the work yourself.
This month I will offer some advice on - ‘Retailing the Work Yourself’. While your initial thoughts may be “if a gallery can sell the work, so can I!”, there is more to it than just offering the painting for sale. You need to know where to offer it; you need to ‘ready’ the work for sale (have it cleaned, restored and properly framed); be ready to stand behind the work (should it turn out to be a fake) and spend some money advertising it. I have seen private collectors take out expensive ads in some of the art magazines to try and sell their works … most, end up spending a lot of money and never sell the works in question. This leads to the question – why didn’t the work sell?
Most buyers want to know that the person, or establishment, they are dealing with has been around for a long time and that they will stand behind the works they offer … they want guarantees that the works are real and that should an issue arise about its authenticity, there will be someone they can turn to. Most private owners do not have the necessary expertise to guarantee the works, remember that it is more than likely that the work you are looking to sell was originally purchased from a gallery.
Something else to keep in mind is that most galleries do not place ads in magazines just to sell the paintings that are displayed. Good galleries look to establish long term relationships with people and the ads they run are just one way for them to meet new people. The ad that you would run is only for the one or two works you have and if nobody who reads that magazine has an interest in that particular work, or is just uncomfortable purchasing a work from a private individual, you have basically thrown out a good deal of money.
Another idea that comes to mind these days is to create a web site in order to sell the work/works. This is a nice idea but, once again, how are people going to find your site? You are going to have to advertise in the relevant art magazines to let people know where the works can be seen. Here again, we are back to advertising expenses.
Okay, so you decide that instead of offering the work on a site that you create, you are going to place it up on some Internet auction site. The problem here is that due to the fact that so many of the items offered on the sites are just not by the artists they are purported to be by, many people are uncomfortable purchasing works in this forum, and rightly so. Even if your work is ‘by’ the artist in question, you will probably not receive the proper price for it.
While you, as the owner, will make the final decision about how to sell the work/works you have, I suggest that you steer clear of trying to market the work/works to the public. As with most other things in life, you are often best served by letting a professional handle it.
Next month I will cover the traditional auction method.
Art Market Update
I know that many of you are always interested in learning about how the Art Market is fairing in this economic climate. May is the month when the New York auction rooms have their big Contemporary, Modern and Impressionist sales and this year it appears that the market is continuing to show great strength for good quality works. The following are some of the more notable results.
The two top lots in the Impressionist sales were purchased by Steve Wynn: Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Dans les Roses for $23.5 million and Paul Cezanne’s Portrait of Paul Cezanne for $17.36 million … when you are next in Las Vegas stop by his casino and see if they are on display. Mark Rothko’s oversized painting titled No. 9 (White and Black on Wine) brought $16.36 million while his smaller work titled Brown and Black in Reds made $6.7 million; Edgar Degas’ pastel of a ballerina made $10.64 million while his bronze of a ballerina made $10.3 million; Piet Mondrian’s Composition in White Blue and Yellow made $8.07 million; Yves Klein’s RE2 brought a strong $5.27 million while Andy Warhol’s Marlon made $5.04 million while his small (20 x 16 inch) Campbell’s Soup Can (Pepper Pot) made $2.41 million and a small Jackson Pollock drip painting made $5.27 million.
To me, one of the bright spot of the sale was the Felix Gonzales-Torres’ work Untitled (Fortune Cookie Corner). This work featured approximately 10,000 fortune cookies piled into a corner … yes, they were real fortune cookies … and the cataloging for this work was 4 pages long! This ‘installation’ carried an estimate of $600,000 - $800,000 and it failed to find a buyer! There is still some sanity in the world! Well, I figured there was some sanity, but my hopes were dashed the next day when Maurizio Cattelan’s 1996 work Untitled (which consisted of a taxidermied white rabbit with extended ears measuring 98 ½ x 4 x 8 inches … what big ears he has) sold for $399,500 ... so much for my understanding of the Contemporary market.
Gallery Updates: During the past 30 days we have acquired interesting works by Daniel Ridgway Knight, Julien Dupré, Jules Dupré, Paul Blondeau, Édouard Cortès, Johann Berthelsen, Sally Swatland, Heidi Coutu, and Antoine Blanchard; some of which have been added to our web site.
We are also pleased to announce that the gallery will be handling Still Life and plein air Landscape paintings by the contemporary American artist Gregory Frank Harris. The first two works have been added to our web site.
Virtual Exhibitions: This month we have made a change to the Antoine Blanchard Virtual Exhibition. As many of you have seen, this exhibit has grown dramatically over the past 2 years. In order to make it more convenient to view the works, we have moved about 30 of the images to a new Virtual Exhibition, we now have: A Vision of Paris – Part I and A Vision of Paris – Part II. I hope you will take a look as a number of new works have been added this month. Direct links to each exhibit are below:
A Vision of Paris – Part I
A Vision of Paris – Part II
Since our last newsletter we have sold a number of important paintings by many of our favorite artists. Most of these works have been added to their respective Virtual Exhibitions; among them were: an important work by Daniel Ridgway Knight that was painted in 1893; a magnificent set of six Paris street scenes by Antoine Blanchard that were executed in 1963; a beautiful evening snow scene of Porte St. Denis and a large and fabulous interior scene by Édouard Leon Cortès; two wonderful beach scenes by Sally Swatland; a Photo-Realist still life by Barry Oretsky and a beautifully detailed panel painting by the Italian 19th century artist Ludovico Marchetti.
Next Month: I will continue with my series on – Selling a work of art.