The Straightforward Candid Bottom Line

It may appear logical that, like choosing the right doctor, checking several potential brokers or auction houses for one’s artwork or collection of art is a way to ensure the best possible terms and ultimately the best financial return.  However, this approach has been proven time and time again to have the opposite effect.  If one “shops around,” their valuable item (s), they run the very real risk of overexposure – which can drastically lower the value of a work of art in the marketplace.

broker [broh-ker]

1. One that acts as an agent for others, as in negotiating contracts, purchases, or sales.

2. An agent who buys or sells for a principal without having title to the property.

Discreet,  professional brokering of authentic, American or European artwork that is fresh to the market results in the maximum financial return to you.

As your Broker, we will work on your behalf to sell your collection or work of art provided that we are the exclusive representatives/advisors in the process of selling your or your client’s property.

Our brokering process is very similar to that of a real estate agent. The agreement is simple and straightforward, stating that you (the client or seller), have agreed to work exclusively with us (the broker or agent) for a certain predetermined period of time. We generally can sell items (which may or may not include decorative arts such as rare, early furniture or Asian items) which need no extensive research, authentication process or expert condition report, within thirty business days. Often, we can find a buyer within a week or ten days. That’s the experienced, professional approach – one in which your item (s) will sell more quickly and for the best possible price. It is also a proven and successful method which we have employed for over 40 years.

If you can see the simple logic in this professional approach, and would like to have your property sold privately and discreetly for a strong price, without having to pay: seller’s commissions and related fees, shipping, insurance, storage, etc., we are the firm for you.

The “Buyer Pays All The Fees” Approach

The largest costs to the owner when selling at auction, through a dealer, or gallery are the “fees and commissions” that they must pay for the service. Most of these concerns (either directly or indirectly) charge a fee to both the buyer and seller. We do not. Our philosophy is simple: buyers pay a Buyer’s Premium (BP) of up to 25 percent if they purchase at any auction house, or indirectly pay more if they purchase through a consignment gallery or a dealer. Even though the buyer pays it, importantly, this money does not go to you, the owner. In contrast, we charge the only the buyer a reasonable “finder’s fee.” While we do not make as much (on each item sold) as we would if we were getting a standard 20% plus fee from the seller – as well as a hefty premium from the buyer – we make up for it in quantity of sales. Most importantly, this approach keeps you, the seller, from paying any fees.

We also work hard to keep our overhead as low as possible. We don’t have a showy, upscale gallery with the accompanying high monthly rent, utilities, payroll and advertising costs, etc. etc. We sell to a substantial, established list of serious, qualified private collectors from around the world, so there’s no need for us to have a storefront or spend thousands monthly on advertising and “sales staff”.

It’s simple math and common sense. There’s a big difference in the amount of income our firm has to make when selling an item to cover our business expenses, versus what a firm with a huge monthly overhead needs to take in to pay their bills and make a decent profit. It makes perfect sense to us, and we hope it does to you as well.

How Our Brokerage Services Work

Once we have agreed to act as broker for your property – whether a single item or an entire collection – we will present you with a straightforward and simple consignment agreement. As soon as this is co-signed, our team moves very quickly and efficiently on your behalf to research, authenticate, value and sell your property.

We are currently seeking clients who require professional advice in order to sell their 18th – 20th century American or European artwork by major artists.

We are currently seeking clients who require professional advice in order to sell their 18th – 20th century American or European artwork by major artists.

Our preliminary research includes finding, and discussing with you, comparable recent sales. Before our actual possession of your artwork, a “net price” (ie: what you will get paid when the item is sold), is mutually agreed upon. If any deviation from this net price – for whatever reason – is necessary, we will always consult with you, as the Agreement stipulates, so that we are in complete mutual agreement over the net price. Rarely, the need does arise to renegotiate with you the amount that we stated you would realize for your property.

When the time comes to pick up your property, we take no chances at all with your valuable item (s). The consignment agreement will stipulate that all items in our possession are fully covered by the best insurance policy. If needed we can have our insurance agent confirm this for you. In this way, you will feel 100% comfortable and assured that your artwork will be safe and very well protected until sold. We are happy to report that we have never had any damages, losses, or theft and we will continue to do what is necessary to maintain this track record. Most importantly, the insurance coverage is at zero cost to you, the owner/consignor.

Mary Cassatt A Cup of Tea c. 1879

Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926)
A Cup of Tea c. 1879

We keep all aspects of the promotion and sale of your item(s) private and very “selective.” Your identity, location, etc. are kept completely confidential, unless it is necessary in the early stages for the “in person inspection” and ultimate sale of your item(s). However, this is rare, and even then we will only provide your information after we have your full consent.

Generally, most items consigned to us are sold within 30 days. Some artwork, if “ready to sell” immediately, can often be placed with a customer in 7-10 business days. Exceptions are usually in the case of very expensive items (valued in the range of 7-8 figures) or items where extra time is required for research involving provenance, historical information, scientific testing of materials or outsourced expert authentication.

All of our clients are paid within 10 business days from the time we receive the proceeds and receive “guaranteed funds,” such as a cashier’s check or bank wire transfer.

How We’re Different

Auction houses are, in certain situations -and with the proper guidance from seasoned experts that are experienced and savy at negotiating on the seller’s behalf – are certainly an option, provided that the items are “fresh”. When considering the appropriate avenue for the sale of a work of art or a collection, there are many issues to consider and negotiate: having an appropriate pre-sale auction estimate so that buyers are motivated, verses being “scared away”; favorable seller’s commission; advantageous catalogue placement; prominent location in the pre-sale exhibition and adequate pre-sale publicity in the proper venues are just a few of the issues for which Fine Art Investments offer guidance if this is the route that an owner is contemplating taking in selling their artwork or entire Estate.

Maurice Prendergast After the Review c. 1895

Maurice Prendergast (1858 – 1924)
After the Review c. 1895

However, it can take months before the auction “most appropriate” for the consignor’s specific category of property is scheduled; when that time comes, payment the consignor is no less than 35 days after the auction. In the case of consignment galleries and dealers, the wait may be even longer before a prospective buyer for one’s specific artwork comes along. Assuming an item sells, some collectors insist on payment terms, which prolongs the receipt of seller’s proceeds. Finally, depending on what terms are negotiated before the consignment agreement is signed, at least 25-40% in commissions and fees are charged to the seller. The fine print in most auction house’s agreement stipulates that the consignor pay them a “buy-in” fee if the item fails to sell.

We are happy to discuss advising you, should you choose the auction route. However, in contrast, as stated earlier, our clients are paid within 10 business days from the time we receive the funds for the sale. We sell only to an established list of buyers eager to purchase the types of quality works of art for which we have become known to handle. You haven’t read about the sales because they are “Private” and we take that term literally. Many have bought major fine art through us over the years; others on our list are buyers with excellent reputations who are the “go-to collector” for a particular artist’s work. These individual buyers pay all fees, commissions and miscellaneous costs associated with any sale, unless otherwise discussed with and agreed to by you. In some cases we cover certain fees ourselves and get reimbursed when we receive our commission from the buyer.

Maurice Prendergast After the Review c. 1895

Maurice Prendergast
After the Review c. 1895

When we broker your property, it is first offered, naturally, to the most likely prospects for a particular work of art. These are also buyers determined by us to be extremely discreet. If the first prospect “passes,” we move on to the next most likely buyer. The market need not know that an item has been offered before. This approach gives our firm a major advantage in most instances over traditional “fine art or antique dealers” — specifically gallery owners who choose to publicly display the work, which removes the allure of a single work (or a collection of art) being “fresh to the market.”

The Dangers of “Overexposure”

Because it’s a problem we see so often, we simply can’t stress enough to you the importance of understanding the very real dangers and consequences associated with overexposure. If you show or offer your property – by way of sending images to auction houses, dealers or collectors – it can seriously jeopardize efforts to get the best possible price or even to sell a piece at all. When selling high quality fine or decorative art, it is very important that it be “fresh” to the market. For this reason, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of coming to us first.

The “artworld” is actually very small. Collectors, brokers, experts, museum curators, auction house employees, dealers and even some conservators, speak with each other frequently regarding artwork or images they have seen. Even an owner’s contact information has been known to have been shared with others with the promise of a commission if things “work out.” The psychology behind these actions ranges from the inclination of many of these people to appear to be “in the know” or a real “player”, to the very common intention of making a commission of their own by trading on “inside information”. When offered discreetly and efficiently to the right buyer, high quality, authenticated items tend to move rather quickly. Conversely, if a single important work or a collection of art has been “shopped around”, serious collectors are inclined to wonder what is wrong with it and why it hasn’t sold. Often, the end result, much like a work which goes unsold at auction because the pre-sale estimate was too high, is often that no one wants anything to do with the item in question. It has been overexposed: the trade term being burned, as in “burned bridges.” For us, discretion is a way of life as well as a motto by which we run our business. We get results quickly and discreetly.

“Been There, Done That” – It May Not Be Too Late: We May Still Be Able to Help

If you have a high quality item or entire collection and already have a less than satisfactory offer or have first-hand experience with any of the above situations, we may certainly still be willing to work on your behalf to achieve the strongest price in today’s marketplace. This would be contingent on the fact that you or your associates are no longer offering the item or collection directly or through other brokers, dealers or auction houses. We have often placed items which have been offered by others and have occasionally sold that item for more than the price for which it had previously been offered. It is more difficult to sell a piece for the best price if photographs of the work have been circulated electronically, which today can happen in a matter of seconds!

We welcome you to contact us, so that we can candidly discuss with you the many options which are available to you.