Preparing to Sell Art from Your Collection

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Money Symbols | Ackerman's Fine Art

Buying and selling art always has an element of risk. Not only does the seller need to feel secure with the sale, but they also need to know if this is the best time to sell. Prior to finalizing a sale, be sure that you are prepared.

Before contacting anyone to sell your art, do some research to get a ballpark of the possible value for the piece. Look at auction sale records to see what other collectors are currently interested in and what comparable pieces have sold for recently. If the style, genre, or era that the piece is from is in high demand, then it is a good time to move forward. If not, hold off and watch for the next raising trend. Also consult with an art dealer or other expert for advice. Not all works by an artist fetch high prices and there are many reasons why this is the case.

When selling to a gallery or auction house, they will give you a purchase agreement or contract. This should include arrangements for payment schedules and who would be responsible for any restoration fees. Go over these documents carefully and see if you are comfortable with all the conditions. If there is language that seems unclear or a condition that you were unaware of, ask for clarification. Do not sign off on something without a full understanding of everything the contract entails. Keep copies of the purchase agreement for your records.

Gather any documentation connected to the piece. This includes ownership records, or provenance, exhibition history, publications and records of restoration work. This helps in both valuing the piece and proving authenticity. Without such documents, discerning buyers may not be interested in a purchase and good documentation could influence the price.

If at any point you don’t feel comfortable with either the gallery or auction house, reconsider selling to them. Treat this as a business partnership. They are available to assist you with the process, not to make you feel pressured into something unwanted.

Before signing the contract, it is imperative that you feel both prepared and secure in the purchasing arrangement. Many have felt remorse when rushed into a sale. By remaining informed, you can walk into the final stages with confidence.


Kenny Ackerman is an Art Dealer in New York, specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by artists we represent, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.

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