19 Jan 2009

Sell art only if you have to

(By Nalini S Malaviya)


As everyone knows this is not a good time to sell art, as prices for paintings and other art forms have fallen significantly. Therefore, if one were to sell now, one would not get the same price as what could have been achieved a few months ago. According to some reports art prices have corrected as much as 30%. However, need for liquidity may encourage investors to sell a few select pieces. In such a scenario, it is important that the seller be realistic about his expectations. Still, if an investor had purchased a work of art 5 or 10 years ago, selling it now will fetch good returns on it.

A seller should do a thorough research and crosscheck current rates from various sources to arrive at an optimum selling price. There have also been instances where artists have shown an interest in buying back their works. This usually happens when the work is representative of a certain phase of the artist, or if it adds value to an artist’s retrospective exhibition. In any case it worth investigating if the artist or his family is keen on regaining the work.
When planning to sell a work, one should also be prepared to wait as it could take some time before the transaction actually happens. Under normal circumstances, too, it is difficult to liquidate art in a hurry. Sellers could check around with galleries, dealers or private collectors who can either buy the work themselves or alternately source a buyer. As buyers are also on the look out for good deals, one may have to be open to negotiation.

It is easier to sell rare and good quality works, especially if they are offered at an attractive price. One should also ensure that all relevant documents – provenance, authenticity certificate and receipts if any – are in order. Before putting up an art piece for sale, remember to check the condition of the work, that it is not damaged or affected in any other way.

(Published in Financial Times)

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