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Lawyer Takes a Look at the Legal and Practical Lessons Learned at Art Basel Miami Beach 2010
Acquavella | New York.

By: Brian Frankel

MIAMI BEACH, FL.- The 2010 Art Basel Miami Beach (“ABMB”) ran from December 2, 2010 through December 5, 2010. ABMB was a fantastic event. Galleries, artists, collectors, art insiders, and the general public mixed in appreciation of some truly incredible art. The event offered a seemingly endless array of discussions, panels, seminars, tours, presentations and networking opportunities. By the conclusion of ABMB, I felt that I learned some useful lessons that could be applied both to my practice of law and to my collecting of art. The following is a summary of three events that I found quite informative:

1. The Art Salon Discussion on Authenticity and the Law.
John Cahill, Donn Zaretsky, and Jo Backer Laird discussed issues involving authenticity of art. The market value of a piece of art depends on its authenticity.
Determining whether a piece of art is authentic falls into the hands of appraisers, art historians, dealers, the living artist, a foundation dedicated to the work of a dead artist, and whoever else the market values as an expert. Determining what is authentic changes over time as technology improves, as new information is made available and as experts grow older. So, a painting classified as authentic is still at risk of being declared not authentic 20 years later. If an expert is not willing to signify a piece of art as authentic, courts are extremely hesitant to do so and the market is hesitant to place a high value on the art as though it were authentic.

Art buyers should exercise due diligence to only pay “authentic” prices for work that is highly certain to be authentic. Before buying a piece of art, a collector should trace the ownership history of the art, consult a recognized expert, consult the living artist or his estate, review previous exhibition and sale history, and consult a conservator. When buying art, collectors should ask for a written agreement detailing the piece being purchased and containing representations and warranties regarding authenticity. After the purchase, protect all documents related to the purchase and the art, especially certificates of authenticity.

2. The Art Salon Discussion on Things to Know When Buying Art.
Josh Baer and Kenny Schachter spoke about the art market and key considerations for art buyers. They discussed how New York is still a major art center, but how London and Hong Kong have risen in stature. They also mentioned that the art market should be viewed with both global and regional lenses, because certain styles and subjects of art are limited in demand to certain geographic regions. For art buyers, it was suggested:

a. Listen. Listen to experts and art professionals regarding a piece of art. Be open to hearing key concerns and opportunities related to a purchase.

b. Resale value. Realize that a lot of art depreciates in value, so understand that the new painting bought today may lose value and be worth less tomorrow.

c. Independent conservation reports. The materials a piece of art is made from may not stand to the test of time or previous conservation efforts may have damaged the art, so consult an independent accredited expert to verify the quality and durability of the art.

d. Price is not always a reflection of quality. Two pieces of art are not equal in historic or artistic value just because they are currently selling at similar prices.

e. Take your time in making a purchase. Do not rush into making purchases or buy from a feeling of pressure. Try not to buy art as a spontaneous decision, but instead think the purchase through. Try walking away from the art and seeing if you remember it and still want it as part of your collection.

f. Research. Spend time researching your art of interest to confirm the authenticity, history, market value, physical condition and other key information.

g. Buy what you like. Some purchases of art can generate profits for the buyers, but the underlying motivation in acquiring art should be that the art appeals to you.

3. AXA Art Insurance Corporation booth
Art insurance is available to protect art purchases. The art insurer helps to protect investments and minimize risks. Insurance companies can provide helpful information and effective strategies to ensure expensive art investments remain safe. Additionally, insurers give grants to respected institutions to help promote conservation and research the longevity of different forms of art and materials.

Art Basel Miami Beach | John Cahill | Donn Zaretsky | Jo Backer Laird |

Today's News

December 13, 2010

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