The secondary art market, or the reselling of works, can be difficult to navigate, but worthwhile and rewarding if properly understood. The market is dynamic, with artist’s values increasing or lowering depending on their popularity, demand, and the trajectory of their career. Often collectors will invest in emerging artists to watch the price of their work rise in value and then profit from reselling it through major auction houses or private buyers. Looking to resell an artwork but don’t know where to start? Singulart guides you through the options on how to resell an artwork, from appraising your piece to finding the right option for resale.
Understanding the market and appraising your work
To start, conduct some research on the current trends of the art market. What type of art and specifically what artists are fetching the highest prices at major auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s? Once you understand the market, you will have a better idea of what sells and what doesn’t. Artprice is a good resource to estimate what your work might sell for based on prior sales of the same artist or even of artists with similar style and worth. If you can’t find this information yourself, you can use the free estimation evaluation of Drouot or check with other small auction houses as they often offer the same appraisal services.
Where to sell the artwork
Once you have estimated the price of your artwork, you are ready to sell. Some avenues for resale include appraisal in their service, and there will likely be a seller’s fee involved in most cases as this is how the secondary market works. This fee is what an auction house would charge you for selling your work with them and represents a small percentage of the selling price. The two main pathways in resale will either be public or private, and these following options are the major resources for reselling.
Auction houses, from small ones to major players, are straightforward in choosing what they think will sell because they know the market in and out. The bigger auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s will only accept work by artists with established selling records, whereas smaller auction houses can accept work by younger artists that are seen trending in art media. It is difficult to get your work into an auction, but if you succeed, the benefit is that the work could fetch more money than the original asking price depending on the competition between bidders. Auction houses will charge the seller a commission if the work sells, usually based on a minimum fee or anywhere between 10 and 35% of the selling price.
To sell the artwork to other private collectors, you must first do research to find which collectors have already purchased the artist whose work you are trying to sell. Use social media to your advantage by joining art collectors groups on Facebook and sharing your offer to these communities. Find art collectors on Instagram who are known for collecting the style you are selling and send them a direct message them with your proposal.
If you originally bought the work from a gallery, you can try to resell it back to them, or to a gallery where the artist is represented. If the gallery is invested in promoting the artist’s work, they may accept the piece because they already have existing relationships with collectors of the artist.
Donation to a museum or university
If all else fails, you can always donate the work to a museum or the permanent collection of a university. Some museums or universities may even pay to acquire the work, but if it’s a donation, you will at least receive a tax deduction for the price of the work or possibly more.