Should You Sell Your Art Collection Privately?
Auguste Rodin, The Thinker (detail), 1904

You may think that the only way to sell your art collection is via auction. While auctioning is the most common method for investors to pass on their collection, it is not the only way for you to find a buyer.

Avoid the auction?

Auctioning is the most common method for investors because buyers come to you. This takes a lot of the leg work out of the selling process. However, as I have detailed in previous posts, such as what you need to know before selling at auction, auctioning can come with a hefty set of fees that eat into your investment returns.

As such, avoiding the auction house and trialing the other methods I detail below can be a fruitful and profitable undertaking.

On the other hand, Auction houses are efficient marketing and selling machines. Without their expertise and connections easing the selling process, you may miss out on earning top dollar for your collection. These are all considerations you have to weigh up before it comes time to sell your artwork.

What ways can you sell your art collection?

Selling via gallery

Galleries are there to sell artwork, aren’t they? Whether you want to reach out to the galleries from whom you acquired the work originally or another that specializes in the artwork you wish to sell, galleries can be the perfect partner for finding a buyer.

Bear in mind the gallery will likely expect to take a cut of the sale price or an upfront fee for their trouble. Galleries can charge up to 50% commission on the artwork’s sale price.

Alternatively, you can also approach the gallery to purchase the art, from which they can then proceed to sell on their own behalf.

Selling Privately

Selling privately means the process and responsibility is in your hands. A private sale can take place via several different avenues, including

  • Listing the artwork on a public marketplace such as eBay
  • Advertising the work in an art magazine
  • Reaching out via phone and email to well-known collectors
  • Networking in the art scene
  • Reaching out to institutions that collect art (museums, trusts, businesses)

Selling your art privately has the added benefit for the buyer: they avoid the pesky Buyers’ Premium charged by auction houses. You should definitely mention this benefit to the buyer during your interactions as a Buyers’ Premium typically falls between 15% and 25%of the sale price.

One downside for selling privately, other than having to build up connections and a sales strategy yourself, is the process of appraisals.

If you prefer to sell your collection privately, you will need to have individual pieces from your collection appraised for a fee. Not all appraisers are equal, and the profession is unregulated. There are certifications, but there are no licenses to be an appraiser. You will have to be diligent to find a reliable appraiser that specializes in works related to your collection.

Check out Masterworks, Public, and Yieldstreet and explore Art Funds that let you purchase shares in million-dollar paintings from blue chip artists like Banksy, Kaws, and Yayoi Kusama.

Read more: Review: Masterworks vs. Yieldstreet
Read more: Review: Masterworks vs Public

We welcome you to Contact Us with any questions you have about investing in art. Let us know your budget, the kinds of art that interest you, and we can work out a plan to get you started with art collecting the right way.