If I inherit an art collection, what do I do?
Because some are innate art lovers and others simply learn to love it over time.
BY ANDREA ROMANÍ
On previous occasions we have talked about collecting as well as the prejudices that exist around the world of art and about the false belief that buying art is only for the wealthy. Starting to collect art is available to anyone who wants it, but what happens if collecting does not fit into your plans but you receive a set of works through inheritance?
What do I do first?
Be it one or several works, the first thing you should do is garner advice on what you have received. Although the works are accompanied by an inventory, it is always better to ask for a new appraisal that suits the current market.
Do I sell or keep?
When you inherit anything from a loved one, regardless of its conomic value, that object acquires a personal and sentimental value that can compromise your judgement.For example, let’s say that you inherit that painting that you have always seen hanging on the chimney of your grandmother’s house; You’ll probably want to keep it as a precious heirloom. But alternatively, imagine that you receive that strange picture that you’ve always disliked; Most likely, you want to get rid of it. In both instances, the piece’s value in the market has not been taken into consideration.
Try to take emotion out of the process whilst taking into account overall market forces. First - the art market is always is in constant motion and not all pieces (although they may share authorship) will receive the same treatment. False attributions can bring great headaches, and on the flipside discoveries can uncover great treasures (such as the recent news story of a woman that realised she had a $6 million painting hanging in her kitchen).
Ok, I'll keep it. What do I do now?
If you have decided to keep the pieces, the next thing you should keep in mind is if you have a physical space to ‘display them’. If so, assess whether it is worth insuring; if not, contact a space specialized in art storage, in order to keep your work in the best condition possible.
I don't want it, can I sell it?
In the case of wanting to sell, an auction house may give you an approximate value of the price that the piece could acquire at auction. These valuations can be done personally or online, an option that houses such as Swann, Freeman’s, Bonhams, Sotheby’s, Christie’s or Phillips already make available to their customers.
I don't like the work and I don't want to keep it, but there is no market for it. How do I get rid of it?
Not all inherited art collections contain ‘precious stones’. In most cases many of them will have no value or even emotional relevance to you and sooner or later you will want to get rid of them. Don't throw it away, you can always donate them under charitable means to antique dealers, charity shops or galleries, even eBay is an option!
It may not have a special value as an artistic work, but surely someone will appreciate its beauty as a simple decorative object.