Art is not priced by the ounce like gold or silver (e.g., one pound of Pablo Picasso does not equal one pound of Yayoi Kusama, so to speak). Size can matter when determining the price of an artwork, but it is far from the most critical factor. Instead, the value of art is determined by a complex set of factors that can vary from artist to artist and artwork to artwork.
One of these factors, and the one that perhaps grants the most wiggle room when it comes to negotiating the price you will pay for art, is the mark-up that a gallery (or whomever you are purchasing from) has placed on the art to take their cut. This is why you should always be open to negotiate the price you pay for an artwork.
Why you should be negotiating
The lower price you can negotiate for the art you collect, the greater return or, the more minor the losses you can eventually accrue. Thus, negotiating the lowest possible price when investing is a key pillar in successful art investing (it is also why we recommend that you be very careful when buying art at auction). In most cases, it is advisable to purchase art from galleries and dealers, or go directly to the artist if they do not have representation.
Negotiate from a distance
If you are uncomfortable negotiating for a discount in person, you can always negotiate by email. Negotiating by email has the added benefit of giving you breathing room to think about any counter-offers without getting swept up at the moment (as can happen when negotiating in person).
Points to note when negotiating
Be sure to enter negotiations with an artist or their representation in good faith. Be honest about your intentions for a discount and why you believe the price you are offering is fair and represents a mutually beneficial deal.
Justifications for a discount could include:
- Recent auction results
- The price for similar work from the same artist
- The price for work from similar artists
- Your personal evaluation of the art’s future worth
- Your budget constraints
- The additional cost you will incur to frame and protect the work
- Purchasing multiple items in one order
Be sure to do your research and know what you want before entering into a negotiation. This will help you stick firmly to the price you want to achieve and quicken the process of acquiring or passing on the artwork.