Where Smart Collectors Are Investing Now

By Barbara Guggenheim

Many collectors still see the art world as one of endless opportunity.

Because I’m an art consultant, I’m constantly asked what’s happening in the art world these days. Like most business, it’s been affected by the plunging economy. More than one client has called, crying, “I wish I had bought that painting you offered me six months ago. I wouldn’t have had that money in the market. I would have had SOMETHING I could look at and enjoy.”

But what to do now? That’s the rub. Even seasoned collectors are asking, “Should I buy? Sell? Hold? Or what?” History may be helpful; analyzing the art world over the past ten years may be helpful in understanding how to maximize your spending power while giving your own collection a boost.

The sea change this decade isn’t one of taste, as in the ‘90s…This time, it’s the way business will be conducted.

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The Night a Painting Broke the Nine-Figure Barrier

Sotheby’s launched a new era in art auctions with a single sale in 2004.

By Barbara Guggenheim

We have no Circus Maximus today, no chariot races. But we do have the art auction, which – far from being the staid and reverent affair of popular imagination – furnishes us with one of the few winner-take-all, life-or-death spectacles to be found in civilized society.

Indeed, the bidders at these events are like fashionably dressed gladiators: Some make a lot of noise, rattling their paddles like sabers to attract attention; others bid secretively using pre-arranged signals to the auctioneer. Many are ruthless in their practices. And, as in the Colosseum in ancient Rome, the spectators always want blood.

Looking back on the 25 years that I’ve attended auctions as an art consultant for my clients, one auction stands out in particular as the epitome of cutthroat competition – the night when Sotheby’s sold Picasso’s Boy with a Pipe, the first painting to fetch more than $100 million.

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How To Buy Art


You’ve got a sofa with a big, blank wall behind it. Or you’ve moved to a new house or apartment with lots of empty wall space. Either way, you need a painting.

Buying your first piece of art can be a downright daunting task. The stark white art galleries are intimidating, and there are so many of them that it’s hard to know where to begin. Worse, it’s hard to make a judgment call and tell good from bad art. And, finally, there’s the question of how much to pay. Below are some steps you can take to ensure a prudent purchase:

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How To Start An Art Collection

By Barbara Guggenheim

Guggenheim Is a partner In the art consulting firm Guggenheim Asher Associates. Her clients Include Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg.

If your ten-year college reunion has come and gone but that dorm-room Water Lilies poster is still with you, it’s time to get your feet wet as an art collector. Many of my clients decorate their walls with works priced at several million dollars, but you can start collecting with only a couple thousand, about the price of that Dolce & Gabbana suit you’ve had your eye on.

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