Figuring out the best time to sell art can seem daunting. Not only are works of art investment pieces, they often make up a very personal collection, carefully curated over the years. But of course, life happens, styles shift, and markets rise and fall — all of which have an impact on when is the best time to sell art. For expert advice, we turned to our Senior Fine Art Specialist, Brittany Gersh who breaks down five important moments when consigning art is a good idea, and will get you the best return on your investment.
Above: Tom Friedman, Mandala, 2008, $15,000
1. You’re moving
“As someone who has moved a lot, I’m familiar with struggling to decide what to keep and what to let go,” says Gersh. “But selling your old artwork can help to finance new pieces and can even leave you with a profit. Consigning is the best way to sell your art when you’re moving because you don’t have to pay to store or move pieces and wait to ship them to a buyer — we offer free white glove pickup, which makes the process so easy compared to auction sites.” Paring down your collection obviously makes moving easier, but as Gersh points out, it has other benefits as well. “Hanging different art in your new space is one of the easiest ways to make the stress of moving feel like a fresh start.”
Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled (Venice Print Project), 1984, $5,250
2. You’re editing or downsizing
Sam Gilliam, Abstract Composition, 1973, $10,800
A move toward minimalism is a popular new year’s resolution. And it’s true, sometimes less is more. Selling art that no longer fits your space or your aesthetic can provide a clean slate and a much-needed refresh. Whether you decide on a permanently minimal space or you just need a temporary decor detox to usher in a new style, selling art that no longer suits you is an excellent way to step back and make thoughtful decisions about your next pieces and your overall collection.
3. You’re buying new art
Donald Baechler, Untitled (Linen Flower #3, #4, #2), 2004, $3,200
Unfortunately, each new piece of art does not come with a wall to display it on. And, as Gersh points out, as you start to build a collection, focus is key. “Some of the best collections, like those of Ron Lauder and Eli Broad are lauded for their focus in a particular era, artist or movement,” she notes. “Whether you buy art to decorate your home or because you want to build a larger collection, with every new piece it’s important to reevaluate and sell older pieces.”
4. You’re updating your home’s aesthetic or architecture
“Part of good design is being true to the environment,” says Gersh. “While mixing and matching can be great, done incorrectly, it can make a space look cluttered an unbalanced.” Whether you’re bringing in a few new pieces of home decor or furniture or doing a more major renovation, it’s time to reassess how your current collection fits in. If aesthetics are clashing — maybe your new mid-century pieces don’t go with your traditional oil landscapes — it’s a great time to consign and use the proceeds to invest in new work that complements and enhances your space.
5. The market is strong
Andy Warhol, Hammer and Sickle, 1977, $29,000
“Buy low sell high is an old adage of investment banking, but the same is true for art,” advises Gersh. “The art market saw record sales in 2014, and 2015 appears just as strong if not more so. If there were ever a good time to sell, it is now,” she says. “Specifically, the best return on investment right now is in the Contemporary and Modern art market, so now is the time to get the most for your Warhols, Basquiats, and contemporary and emerging artists like Alex Prager, Tauba Auerbach and Sam Falls. Consigning is the best way to get top market value — we have more buyers than most auction houses and are able to price competitively,” says Gersh.