The subjective practice of buying or selling art exercises a human function rarely applied elsewhere. As such a personal exercise, the success of any collector invokes variables beyond price or worth. The journey toward establishing a collection is a process of three principles.

Love and Intrigue

By its nature, art wants to be exposed, interrogated, consumed, judged – very often by our own instinct. If your first reactions are arrested by visual appeal or narrative or recognition – buy. You can spend hours, days, and months finding value other than financial. Will this art add dimension to your life? Will you achieve maximum satisfaction? Will it influence routine? Will it complement existing character? These are questions that any collector is faced with.

Change and Personalities

When you buy art, you buy into the life and experiences of its creator. You enter into their reason and their belief. This is where art collecting becomes deeply personal; where you have the fortune and pleasure of owning an object of consequence and implication beyond your own life. Artists are routinely misdiagnosed as being inaccessible – this is a fallacy. Establish a relationship with the artists you buy from – listen, learn and understand the origins of your art. Maintain interest – this is a profoundly rewarding exercise.


There is art that accumulates value and art that does not. There are artists that will produce incredible work for a lifetime and others that will move on to other ventures. In an artist’s life there are periods when work produced is less popular and less “valuable” than other periods. Navigating through the noise around investing in art is tough and fraught with danger. Spectators are often disappointed in the growth of blue chip art investments. Alternatively, some collectors have been very profitable.

There are two main markets in which art is traded – primary and secondary. The primary market is effectively the dealer market. Buy from reputable dealers. The base function of a dealer is to grow the success of its stable of artists; helping them along the way in their career; helping them achieve greater prices for their work. Dealers employ experienced curators who spot talent, and the better the dealer; then the greater the chances of the work growing in value. The secondary market is the auction house market. The high profile auction houses attract the best consignments. Here, prices are generally higher but come with the benefit of auction results; good research allows the prospective buyer to identify trends and calculate value indicators.

We never advise a collector to trade art purely for financial reasons. Collecting can be a passion, and a smart investment.

Buy for love… and make it work.

Buy for life… and be interested.

Buy for growth… and be smart.


Nick Dreyer is owner of Auriti Advisory, Boston’s partner for offering clients expertise in establishing and developing their art collections.