Guide to Boring Parts of Collecting Art

New Collector’s Guide to the Most Important Parts of Collecting Art

There is no doubt that collecting art is inherently exciting. The process of searching for pieces that inspire you, visiting art fairs, auction, galleries, and even museums. There is a rush of adrenaline when you have chosen the one you want, and especially in the technique of bartering or bidding at an auction. Finally, the idea of having the piece displayed somewhere in your home to show off for visitors and enhancing your residence or office.

There is, however, a less thrilling side of art collecting. As is true of most businesses or hobbies, there is the practical side of everything. To make the most of your collection, and to maximize its value, these pragmatic needs must be met. The four main (not so fun) aspects of art collecting are:


Once you have found your dream piece, you still need to get it home. Many galleries and auction houses have working agreements with companies who specialize in shipping fine art, including wood crating and packing. If you are working with an Art Advisor, he or she most likely has several connections, enabling you to rest at ease that someone can handle the details. If you purchase the item internationally, you will have matters like insurance,declaration papers, and documentation for U.S. customs. A reputable shipping company will not only crate or package your art, but will declare your fine art items with the international insurance companies and customs brokers. Further, they will handle International transportation to the airport and on to your hometown once it arrives in the U.S. with partner freight companies. Within the United States, there are “art shuttles,” which are transportation companies which simply travel certain routes delivering fine art. If your works are small, FedEx is the most common choice for shipping.


It is a common myth that your homeowner’s insurance policy covers your fine art. In most instances, this is not true (many have limits of around $1,000 for art) and even if it is, it is likely not the coverage you have in mind. So, before you walk away with that $12,000 painting or sculpture, you need to be certain your investment is protected. Additionally, since many people purchase fine art and collectibles out of a love for their aesthetics, and don’t apply the same regard for works as assets like they would other investments, a fine arts insurance policy can provide coverage for lost or broken items (not just those destroyed by common household accidents like fire or flood), and can cover your works individually (i.e. a “scheduled” policy) or your collection in its entirety (a “blanket” policy). As true for anything of high value that you want to insure, your artwork must be appraised so the correct valuation can be placed on it.


Even if your new artwork is in prime condition, to maintain it correctly, it will need basic care to provide many years of enjoyment. High light levels, fluctuations in temperature and humidity, dust, dirt and grime, and even insects can damage artwork. Paintings are especially prone to damage; however, much can be done to restore them to better condition. Luckily, there are professional art conservators who specialize in restoring damaged art. Trained in programs like that found at the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, these certified specialists spend years learning how to restore works as closely to their original condition as possible. To protect you from exorbitant costs, conservators prepare an estimate as part of the American Institute for Conservation’s code of ethics, providing you with a treatment proposal with cost estimates and an examination report. In most cases, where damage is less than 50%, the work can be restored without affecting its value.


In most cases, art theft is not as it appears in the movies. Not to say that you should interrogate every visitor to your home, but you should consider how best to protect your assets (artwork). There are several avenues to consider. First and foremost is a high quality home security system, including NON-hidden cameras (you want would-be thieves to know they are being watched) placed closer to eye level. If you have a collection large enough or valuable enough that you want to keep pieces in storage, a specialized fine art storage facility can provide a controlled environment to protect your art’s condition, as well as tighter security. Check on your collection periodically to ensure everything appears in good condition. Finally, an art loss register and RFID tags can drastically increase the odds that your works can be tracked and recovered.

These are all important, if not tiresome, aspects of fine art collecting. Once you have invested in something you have an attachment to and a fair amount of money in, you need to protect it. By ensuring it arrives to your final destination safely, insured to protect its value, restored to beautiful condition, and secured for your enjoyment, you increase the lifespan of the work and the odds it will be around for future generations.

Sybaris Collection has a network of professionals with years of experience to help you through the art collecting process. Let us guide you, from browsing and selecting a piece to inspire you, to displaying it safely at your final location.