How to Collect: Before and During the Purchase

4 April 2012
How to Collect: Before and During the Purchase

Buying art – what do I need to think about?

Things to consider before purchasing:

  • Always check the work is signed or some other form of proof of authorship.
  • Check the condition of the work, especially if it has had previous owners.
  • Confirm all details about the work: (a) title (b) date (c) media (d) dimensions (e) if it is an edition, check the edition number and that the work is clearly signed and ask to know how many artist’s proofs there are (f) if it forms part of a series (g) any background from the artist about the work (h) critical or curatorial writing on the piece and (i) previous owners and any past sales details.
  • Ask for guidance on conservation.
  • Installation instructions if required.

Things to consider during purchasing:

  • Always confirm the agreed price in writing, including any negotiated discount.
  • When the invoice arrives, check it includes all information about the work as above.
  • Agree the timeframe for payments – it is often possible to pay in instalments if agreed with the gallery at the time.
  • Clarify any currency exchange rates and if the work was purchased abroad, check if the work is subject to local sales tax or VAT and that this is included in the price.
  • Check if the work has been promised for loan to any forthcoming exhibitions.
  • Check delivery costs and who is paying for these – it is usually the purchaser.
  • Confirm who is insuring the work when it is in storage or in transit.
  • Is there a resale agreement on the work?   This means that there is an undertaking by the purchaser to sell the work back to the gallery first rather than to sell it on to any other third party at a later date.  Some galleries will insist on this.


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