How to spot a Masterpiece on Auction

Buying art on auction is not only for the fat of wallet – raising your paddle can be both accessible and fun, even if you’re an auction house newbie.

First of all, why buy on auction?

It’s a misconception that only millionaires can buy art at auctions, as many of the leading auction houses cater for a wide variety of tastes and budgets.

  • Buying on auction is exciting and fun
  • You can find unique works of art
  • It’s an easy way to start an art collection
  • Auctions are transparent and fair, ensuring that the price paid for a work reflects the true market value

Be sure to buy from a reputable auction house, where you can be assured that each piece have been vetted by an expert to determine its quality and value.

How to find quality pieces on auction

  • Only buy a work of art if you personally love it – remember that prices can go down as well as up, so at least if you buy something you can get enjoyment from, its investment value is less of a concern.
  • Consider the artist – the success of an artists can generally be based on their existing track record at auction, the exhibitions they’ve staged, as well as the degree to which their works have been purchased or loaned by museums for display.
  • But it’s not only about the artist – consider the medium of the painting too. Generally speaking, oil paintings are more valuable than works on paper, which are more valuable than prints.
  • The condition of the piece can be crucial, so look at the work closely before placing an offer. The auction house should also be able to provide you with a condition report.
  • It’s better to buy a quality artwork from a lesser-known artist than to buy a poor quality piece by a well-known artist.

Ask an expert

Specialists in art will be able to provide guidance on the current market for specific artists, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Specialist publications and certain internet databases will also be able to give you comparable information so that you can benchmark the asking price of a particular piece.



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