The Art of Buying Art

A How To Do It


For a several years, I wrote an Art Column for three newspapers. I got to examine the creative processes of lots of different artists and also the ways to make a profit on the collecting of art. Over the years I have bought a great many works from a great many artists. I still have almost all of this art, because I could not bear to sell any of it. I love every piece! I’ve hoarded it!


My experience with Art started in 1948, when I was 16 years old and working full time as a runner for The Caine-Sloan Department store In Nashville, Tenn. My job was to run packages for delivery in Downtown Nashville, and also to pick up items that the store ordered from other business in the area.


I would frequently pass a small shop that sold artistic items. Most if these items were boring to me, but in their window were a pair of Black Panthers. Being an avaricious reader of Frank Buck and Clyde Beatty, I fell in love with these two.



I talked the store owner into putting them on layaway for me. Two weeks later I couldn’t wait to get them, so I used most of my week’s salary to pay them off. I believe they were $5.95 each.


I have always loved looking at them, and I have them still! They have cost me 18 Cents A Year. They are the best buy I have made in my long life. I have no idea what they are worth today, but I know it is a lot more than $11.90. It’s hard to find something that gives you JOY and INCREASES in VALUE!


If you buy a new piece of furniture for you home, let’s say a new sofa. And you pay a certain price for this sofa, let’s say $800.00. When your friends and family come over to visit, they will be impressed and compliment you on the beauty of your new sofa. It will make your home look nicer!


Another alternative would be to spend the $800.00 on a fine piece of art. A Painting perhaps, or some Silver work, or maybe a classical piece of Pottery or Sculpture, or Crystal. If you bought one of these, when your friends and family come over to visit, they will be impressed and compliment you on the beauty of your new work of art. It will make your home look nicer!


Let’s look at things a year later. Some new friends or other member of your family come to visit. They will be impressed and compliment you on the beauty of your work of art. Because it still makes your home look nicer! But no one will ever compliment you on a year old sofa! And, it gets uglier and less valuable every day! Art, on the other hand, holds its value or goes up in value. If you need to sell that sofa after one year, you will be very lucky to get $100.00 for it. With Art, it doesn’t loose its value, and you can pass on something of value to your children and grandchildren. They may even sell that $800.00 piece of art for thousands and thousands of dollars. It happens like that time after time! Just watch the Art Auctions.


Now the question is: “How can YOU tell what art to buy and what to avoid.”


The first thing is that you must like what the artist has created. It must appeal to you! It’s going to be in your home, probably for years to come. It should give you joy, and perhaps even a sense of wonder.


If you think” Oh, I wish I could create something like that”, then you know that will be a good buy for you.


One thing that is difficult for most people to understand is that there are NO ART EXPERTS!. There are people who know a great deal about one artist, or one small style of art, but no one has the ability to say this piece of art or that piece of art is worth a million dollars. Though they might be able to say it isn’t worth a million dollars. They can sometimes show that the type of paint used, or the type of canvas used did not exist 200 years ago, while the painting was claimed to be created by Goya. But there is really No way to be certain a work isn’t a copy. Way too many well established “Art Experts” have been proved wrong for anyone to bet their life on these folks decisions! 


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