Purchasing Art

Sebastien Laboreau: A Practical Guide to Purchasing Art

Sebastien Laboreau

Buying art is no easy task, and investing in it, can sometimes be a challenge. No one better than experienced art collector Sebastien Laboreau, who spent years at Goldman Sachs to give us advice and show us the value of investing in art.

Art collector Sebastien Laboreau was born and raised in Paris in a home where art was a shared passion. He learned about the value of art through his parents’ collection, and after years in the world of finance, as investment consultant for Goldman Sachs and analyst for AXA Group, Loaborau has become a sought-after advisor in mergers, acquisitions, and art investments.

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Sebastien Laboureau.

The art market is showing more strength than ever before supported by a growing international demand, as demonstrated notably by the increasing frequentation and frequency of art fairs all over the world. This is further seen in the record highs achieved recently for modern and contemporary works at major auction houses in New York, London, and globally.
Buying Art

This being said, it is never easy to purchase art at any level. There are many ways to purchase artworks (at auction, from art galleries, at art fairs), and prices always include different kinds of fees and commissions depending on the origin of the artwork, so it is important to know how to navigate the art world and to apply a few simple rules in order to make the right purchase at the right price.
The Golden Rules For Buying An Artwork

Only buy what you love. This is the most important rule of all. You must be ready to live with the artwork you purchase for a long time, and ultimately if you love the artwork you purchase, you will never be wrong… You will be astonished at the impact an artwork can have in your own life.

Familiarize yourself with art. Art is an intimate journey, one you can share with your family and friends. Knowledge is key and to acquire this knowledge, one has to visit museums, go to art fairs, galleries and attend auctions as frequently as possible. The more art you see, the more you will understand what you like and will be comfortable with what you purchase. There are also numerous publications online that will help you understand better the world of art and art history.

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Do your own research and due diligence. It is critical to know exactly what you purchase, who the artist is, who he has exhibited with, who he is represented by, who he is collected by… there is no harm in asking as many questions as necessary to the person who is selling the artwork. There are also many ways to check the price, through comparable sales at auctions, or through research online. More importantly, you must obtain all the relevant documentation and paperwork pertaining to the artwork you purchase (certificates of authenticity, provenance, bill of sale).

Seek the expert advice from an experienced art advisor. It is difficult for a “non-expert” to know where to start and to choose the right artists and artworks; it is not only a matter of taste… It is critical to seek advice from well-qualified and experienced professionals to navigate the world of art.

Price is not the most important criteria in the purchase of an artwork, there are many parameters to take into account when purchasing an artwork: including authenticity, provenance, and condition.
Art as an Investment

Art is now seen as a true alternative investment. While it remains an aesthetic and intellectual investment, it is one that can also result in strong positive returns in the medium to long-term. Numerous studies are showing investment in major “blue chip” artists is worthwhile. However, the art market is still not an investment market as it notably lacks liquidity and transparency. Only savvy and experienced buyers are able to generate investment returns, through diversification and more importantly over time. An investment in artworks also involves “hidden costs” that you need to take into consideration, like insurance, shipping, framing, and potential restoration.

Even though art is now seen as somewhat of a “safe investment haven”, buying art is above all satisfying and fulfilling. Living with an original work of art is a way of seeing the world differently, of seeing oneself differently, of stimulating our senses and our minds, and of sharing with our loved ones.  ■

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