Sep 19, 2013


I am always getting emails from people who buy art cheaply and then want to know what it is worth. If you want to be serious about collecting fine Asian art, here are some useful tips: 

1. Buy what you like not what you think will appreciate in value.

2. Buy from reputable dealers--avoid eBay, where dealers and collectors sell off their second-rate art or fakes. Also avoid estate and rummage sales, unless you really know what you are looking at.

 3. No matter what dealer you buy from, do not take their word on identification and dating; ask for documentation, do research yourself, and consult unbiased experts (museum curators, scholars, knowledgeable appraisers)

4. Buy the best type of art you can get for the money you have to spend. If, for example, you only have $5,000 to spend, buy the best art you can get for that amount of money. Do not get a work of art by a particular artist or a  type of art just to have something of that type of art in your collection if all you can afford is a mediocre piece.  
5. Trade up--if you find a piece better than one you already have in your collection, get that and sell (or donate to a museum) the one of lesser importance. 

6. Unless you know that it can be repaired easily, do not buy art in poor condition, unless you really know what you are buying is rare and can be properly restored by trained conservators. This is especially true for Japanese prints, scrolls, and screens.