There comes a time in every collector’s life where they feel inclined to sell a work of art. There are many reasons for this. For some, it is about the diminishing emotional and critical appeal – the relationship with it has reached its natural end. For others, the conditions of the market make it irresistible not to keep – the financial rewards are just too appealing.
In some ways, it is not that difficult an endeavour. Most popular works of art are always admired, so the chances of it being snapped up – either privately or at auction – are incredibly high, and even lesser known works have a wide appeal.
Consider it this way, the art industry is a colossal entity, made up of a vast numbers of galleries and museums, major and independent; auctioneers, powerful and niche; and artists and collectors, both of whom are at various stages in their career. Someone, somewhere, is going to be interested.
Of course, as open, diverse and malleable as the sector can be, it is nevertheless prone to periods of malaise, inactivity and slumps. This can either be severely felt, as was the case after the financial crisis in 2008, or more modestly experienced as a cyclical blip.
Therefore, there will be periods where you will have to keep your work under lock and key, though that should not prevent you from considering what is required of you when it comes to selling a work, such as determining a suitable price, fine art shipping, matters of tax and the like.
Think about the online world
The internet has changed everything. From providing people with an overwhelming bounty of information to empowering them to have a voice via blogs and changing the way they communicate, it has been one of the most transformative periods in human history.
Art has benefited from this democratisation, and, if anything, it has granted most of us – there are still massive barriers to full utilisation of the web in authoritarian countries – a wider audience. This is a global playground.
These days, it is normal practice for artists and galleries to operate online, complementing and even occasionally superseding their activities in the real world. It is an especially useful conduit through which to showcase work and garner a reputation, bypassing the sometimes misjudged pronouncements of the rich and powerful.
Consider an expert
Everything in the art world is time sensitive. If you’re a novice collector, you need more intervention, whereas as an established individual, experience will shape a lot of your decisions. You have, after all, come to be someone with expertise.
There are all sorts of organisations and specialists out there that can assist you in making the best decision possible. There are art dealers, art consultants and even agents of artists – whose work you are in possession of – that can contribute to a well devised programme.
The Society of London Art Dealers is one particularly useful source to consult. Established in 1932, this historic trade association has the clout to deliver a comprehensive result. It has dealers in all areas, including, at a glance, nineteenth century European art, the decorative art and old masters.