The Art of Investing


  • Author Dan Mcdougall
  • Published May 16, 2007
  • Word count 676

For any art enthusiast, picking the right painting to invest in is a very detailed and rigorous event. If you are spending thousands of dollars for a work of art you want to pick that perfect piece that fits into your home and inspires you. When you invest in Fine Art you are not only investing in the moment but into the future as well. Not only do you want the painting you buy to be appealing in the present but down the road when you are looking to sell your painting to the next lucky buyer. So how do you make a decision as big as this without any guidance? If you follow the tips below you will be sure to pick just the right painting for you that will have value for years to come.

Tip #1: Buy a painting you like. The first tip that I offer you is to buy a painting you like. Do not simply look for a painting that will bring you the most profit in the future but buy something that you will be able to look at day after day and feel a connection to. Philip Guston, an American expressionist artist once said, “Look at any inspired painting. It’s like a gong sounding; it puts you in a state of reverberation.” This is the feeling you want to search for when finding the painting to mount on your wall. There will be no greater disappointment then if you wake up one day to find that the attraction to your painting has disappeared.

Tip #2: Look for good quality and subject matter. Just because a painting is by a particular artist, don’t assume it will be easy to turn over when the time comes to sell it. Make sure the painting is of good quality and subject matter. This assures you that, in the long run, you will be able to sell the painting to another art seeker and get a great return.

Tip #3: Ask the right questions. Make sure you ask the right questions — Who is the artist? How important is the art? What is its provenance, history, and documentation? Or more simply, where has the art been and who has owned it? This is the most important thing you need to know. An art work’s provenance provides information about the origin of the work and its previous owners. Provenance serves as the key evidence of a work's authenticity and its rightful ownership.

Tip #4: Make sure the asking price is fair. You want to make sure that the asking price is fair. Compare and contrast your art to records of public and private sales of related works of art that have already sold. You can obtain price information on works of recognized artists from the art departments of most major institutional and public libraries, art reference bookstores, the internet, certain art galleries, and auction sales records (the most important auction records for this purpose are works of art that are similar in size, subject matter, medium, date executed, and other specifics to the one you are interested in buying). You also want to research who you are buying from. Whether it is from an art gallery, art dealer or auction, make sure they are reputable and have a knowledgeable staff to help you out. Ask to see recent sales results for art by the artist you're interested in. Make sure that the artist has a good track record of selling works of art similar to the piece you are looking to buy for a comparable amount to what you're being asked to pay.

Tip #5: Insure your art. After you make your big purchase, make sure to insure your art for its full replacement value. Remember to insure for casualty loss (fire, flood, etc.) as well as for theft. Continually have your work of art revalued by a certified appraiser to be sure you will be able to recover its full value upon its loss.

I wish you the best of luck on your exciting journey ahead.

Dan McDougall is the owner of McDougall Fine Arts Galleries, which has been serving the discerning collector for over 40 years, specializing in American oil paintings and watercolors of the 19th and early 20th centuries, with particular expertise in American Impressionism, marine paintings and Cape Ann painters. Visit their website at

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