Online exclusive

How to Buy Art: Who’s Who?

Before purchasing your next piece of art, understand the roles of professionals in the art world.

how to buy art
Credit: Claire Demos
Online exclusive

How to Buy Art: Who’s Who?

Before purchasing your next piece of art, understand the roles of professionals in the art world.

Before buying your next piece of art, consider working with these professionals to guide you — from buying to upkeep and maintenance.

Art advisor: An independent art advisor — not associated with specific artists or museums — can provide well-rounded and unbiased advice when it comes to buying art. Art advisors monitor art fairs and auctions to find pieces that reflect your taste and personality, as well as direct you down the best avenues for finding works.

Art consultant: Similar to an advisor, an art consultant conducts research and networks to find the best artwork to buy. But consultants work on behalf of galleries or museums rather than individuals.

Art dealer: An art dealer typically specializes in a certain style, period or region, and works for artists or museums with similar areas of interest to match work in their inventory to customers.

Appraiser: If you need to document your assets for insurance purposes, prepare a work of art for auction, or work on an estate or divorce settlement, an appraiser can determine the value of artwork and record facts like its condition.

Authenticator: An authenticator examines a work of art to verify that it’s genuine — often through laboratory testing such as X-radiography and fiber analysis. This process can take several months, much longer than an appraisal.

Conservator: A conservator works to minimize potential damage to artwork — for example, checking the temperature, humidity and lighting of the area where a work is stored. While many art conservators work with museums, you can hire them to examine pieces in your personal collection.

Restorer: A restorer repairs damaged artwork and returns it to its original state while altering the piece as little as possible.

Financial advisor: As part of the estate planning process, a financial advisor can encourage you to develop an inventory of your collection, help you find an appraiser and work with your tax advisor to determine the tax consequences of your plans on your overall portfolio.