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"Art Collector's Dilemma: What You Must Check Before Buying (Part I)

Actualizado: 20 oct 2023


Being an art collector isn't all glamour and fancy parties. You've got your own set of worries and fears when it comes to adding a new piece to the collection. It's like having a buffet of concerns to deal with, and it can feel overwhelming. So, let's break down these art collector fears one by one, starting with the biggie:

Provenance - It's the Background Check for Art: Think of provenance as the art world's equivalent of a background check. It's like confirming an artist's identity papers, and it's crucial for peace of mind. Here's why you should be all over it:




  • Authenticity Assurance: No one wants to be the proud owner of a forgery. Provenance helps us verify if the piece is the real deal. It's like having the artist's birth certificate, but for their work.

  • Show Me the Money: Provenance can literally boost its price. If it has a glamorous history, like being in a famous collection or an important exhibition, it might have a higher price tag. This is a fascinating theme! Have you ever read 'The $12 Million Stuffed Shark'? It's a perfect portrayal of the art market and all the characters involved. Stay on the Right Side of the Law: We're no art thieves here! Provenance helps ensure that we're not accidentally buying stolen or looted art. It's like a moral compass for collectors.

  • A Story to Tell: An artwork's journey through various collections and exhibitions tells a story. Provenance adds to the historical and cultural significance of the piece, making it way more interesting to show off. To have a little background I recommend "Art: The Whole Story" is a valuable resource for art enthusiasts, students, and anyone interested in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of art through the ages. Lending is Caring: If you ever want to share your masterpiece with the world through a museum or gallery exhibition, good provenance is your golden ticket.

  • Insure and Appraise Right: Provenance is essential when it comes to insuring your artwork or figuring out how much it's worth. It's like the car's service history - keeps it running smoothly.

  • Invest Smart: If you're thinking of your collection as an investment, solid provenance can be the difference between a modest return and a jackpot.

  • Build Trust: A well-documented provenance history is the ultimate trust builder. It keeps shady doubts at bay and keeps the art community on your side.

Getting Your Hands on Provenance Docs: Alright, you're sold on the importance of provenance. But how do you actually get your hands on these precious documents? Here are some tips:

  • Ask the Seller: Start with the obvious. When you're considering a piece, ask the seller for provenance documents. A trustworthy seller should have no problem providing this information. If you buy from the artist directly, he or she will provide you with the Certificate of Authenticity and the full history.

  • Check Catalogues Raisonnés: Some artists have catalogues raisonnés, which are like encyclopedias of their work. These can be goldmines of information about an artwork's history.

  • Art Authentication Services: If you want to be extra sure, consider consulting art authentication services and experts. They can research and verify the provenance of the artwork.

  • Dig into Museum Records: Has the artwork ever graced the walls of a museum or gallery? Check museum records for exhibition history. It's like finding a stamp on your passport.

  • Search Archives and Historical Records: For older artworks, dive into historical records, letters, and archives. You might uncover hidden gems about the piece's past.

  • Contact Previous Owners: If you can, try reaching out to previous owners or their descendants. They could have documentation or stories about the artwork's journey.

  • Art History Databases: The internet is a treasure trove of information. Search online art history databases and archives for details about artworks.

  • Consult the Experts: When in doubt, talk to art historians, scholars, and appraisers. They often have access to resources and knowledge about the provenance of specific artworks.

Remember, collecting art isn't just about the piece itself; it's about the story behind it. The more you know about its journey, the more you can appreciate its value. So, roll up those sleeves and get digging for those provenance documents! Your collection will thank you for it. Stay tuned for more tips on art collecting dilemmas in my next blog,


If you are an artist, this website may be useful to you: Art Inventory Software - Easy Art Management | Artwork Archive


Will you be interested in getting all the information in a small book at the end of the posts?


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