8 Tips for Buying Valuable Art at Auctions

Fine art has always been an offbeat and prosperous investment option. Buying and selling art is now a profitable hobby for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. In 2019, the global art market managed to reach an impressive $64.1 billion in sales. For the most part, the credit for such success must go to art auctions held by the leading international auction houses.

Auction houses are the primary destination for art collectors and those who are passionate about art. You must have seen such kind of stuff in the movies, where people are hectically bidding for high-dollar painting and are ready to tear each other to bits to obtain valuable art. In reality, the situation is nowhere near as it is presented. Everything is arranged according to a rigorous protocol and rules, so no one dares to break them. For novice art collectors, it is a great challenge to buy their first piece of art at an auction because there is a whole bunch of hidden aspects, peculiarities, and legal components following the process.

Whether you are already an art collector or you are planning to start your first collection in the near future, this article will become a handy guideline on effective buying techniques aimed at getting valuable art at auctions. The tips presented below will help you put up the money wisely and go through your first visits to various auctions houses successfully.
  1. Find an auction meeting your requirements

Whenever you decide to embark on buying valuable art, do not rush with choosing an auction house at once. Many beginners fall for it and fail early on. Hold off for now and take your time looking for suitable auctions. Start with searching the information concerning different sales platforms in your region to estimate their services and see customers’ reviews.

To opt for a reputable auction, you need to have an idea about all the processes happening in between. Only then, you can visit a couple of spotted places to know whether it is worth it or not. By doing such research, you will generate your own demands as a client, which will forecast your success in choosing the rightest auctioneers afterward.

  1. Research artists and works of art

As a collector, you must make your way toward a meaningful and intelligent art collection. Trying to find the most beneficial and popular artists would be nothing but shots in the dark. The process of collecting valuable artworks is based on an aesthetical level. In other words, when seeing an attractive piece of art, you should not focus on how much you can get from sales but how much you love it.

It is pretty easy to find information about artists and their works. As well as with auctions, make a list of your favorite artists and find out where their works are going to be featured.
  1. Know your budget

Here comes one of the most interesting parts – money. Overall, buying valuable art obeys one simple rule: more money means more luxurious and valuable artworks. There is one more important thing to keep in mind: apart from the price for the artwork itself, there is a so-called buyer’s premium that is a fee a winning bidder is expected to pay. Most of the time, it does not exceed 20% in total.

  1. Think beforehand

Some things should be dealt with long before an art auction. For instance, how are you going to get your art pieces home? After buying art, a seller gives a buyer a couple of days to decide on the mode of transportation. Experts strongly recommend hiring only an established and professional team of art shippers. One good example is Fine Art Shippers, an NYC-based art logistics company providing a comprehensive set of art and antiques shipping services on an international basis. Such companies work closely with many auction houses and can guarantee that your new acquisitions are delivered to your home safe and sound.

  1. Consider export/import restrictions

If you buy valuable art outside your homeland, then you should keenly read all about trade restrictions between countries. You may also need to obtain certain export/import permits. If you have doubts, be sure to consult a professional lawyer.
  1. Timing is a key

Every auction has deadlines. Every single day of an event may have a profound influence on price tags and interest level. Public demand is prone to change from time to time due to all sorts of reasons. You should have a tutored eye to discern all the alterations and pick the best time to bid.

  1. Bidding is a mind game

Bidding is always a competition between the players. Sitting with a group of unknown people, you can hardly guess who is who and whether your chances are at stake or not. Truth be told, it may be morally difficult to take part in live auctions. However, even if you failed to become a final bidder several times, there is anything wrong with that. Just go on!

  1. Do not go with the flow

To shift away from the pragmatic tone of previous paragraphs, let’s talk a little bit about art. The role of an art collector resembles the role of a person who can love art to the core and still see its monetary value on the market. It is all about individual hunch and perception, which allows an art collector to develop a personal style of collecting valuable art. In the end, everything is up to you.


Thanks to international art flow and massive dissemination of artworks at art auctions, the art market can reap a great benefit from it and hence keep the lights on even in tough times. As a would-be art collector, you must completely understand what you are doing and why you are doing it. Hopefully, these tips will lighten your way and help you make your first bid with a great presence of mind. Good luck in buying valuable art!