Last year there was talk that the bubble for Emerging and Contemporary Art market was about to burst, if it hadn’t already. Our favorite sensationalized headlines included That $100,000 Painting Bought to Flip Is Now Worth About $20,000 and Collectors Abandon Emerging Art. But we continue to work with clients who have established collections ripe with emerging art that continues to demonstrate that the market is still thriving. And the success of emerging art exhibitions and sections at some of the most influential international art fairs also paints a different picture.

“I made a blanket in 1996 and it sold for £3,500 in 1997. Recently it sold for £720,000 at Christie’s. There is nothing in the world that can give you a return like that.
– Tracey Emin


With Emerging Artists on our mind, here is a summary of our best tried-and-true advice for collectors—taken from conversations our team of advisors have all had, and are preparing to have, while assisting clients with acquisitions at The Armory Show.

  • Define and refine your tastes. The first thing we do with a collector, fresh or seasoned to the market, is establish a clear picture of tastes and interests. Many new collectors are often surprised at what ultimately pulls their attention and draws their emotions.
  • Establish a budget. Begin acquiring the best with what you have and don’t rule out the large fairs like The Armory Show or Art Basel Miami Beach. Even these fairs have great offerings at entry-level price points. Some of the most discerning collectors focus solely on prints, multiples and works on paper. And when it comes to prints, there are some dynamic trends and techniques emerging artist are exploring to push the medium to new heights.
  • Do your due diligence. Here is a little case study: While at Art Miami in December, two galleries each had works by the same artist. They were comparable pieces of art, similar in size, composition, color and condition. One gallery listed their piece at $250,000; the neighboring gallery had theirs listed at $175,000. It always pays to do a little research before you purchase. As we said earlier this month, no one buys a new car or house without first delving into the market, comparing reports, consulting experts and doing their homework. However collectors will drop large sums on a work of art without seeking a second opinion. Connect with fellow collectors, the artist, other dealers who represent the artist, and as it should go without saying—call your art advisor!
  • Understand how the markets work. When you acquire a work of art from a gallery or dealer, you are paying a retail price. When you are ready to sell the artwork, let’s say the market remained stable for that particular artist. Even if able to return to the original dealer you acquired it from, you will likely not get what you paid for it, because the dealer now needs to invest his time in reselling the piece, time and resources not at your disposal, and that comes at a cost. Which leads us to our next point.
  • Buy what you love. “I deduct 10% annually for adding to my life enjoyment, everything else is a gain or loss on investment” are words to live by from a private collector who spent three decades building a collection of artwork he loved. What’s most memorable about this client isn’t his collection, but his attitude. And while not everything had a return on investment, it was his appreciation of the collection that put everything into perspective.
  • Stay connected and get involved. Collecting art is a lifestyle and process, so follow the careers of the artists you add to your collection, go to museum exhibitions, check out gallery openings, meet collectors and artists at clubs related to your collecting interests, and be open to discovering a passion for something you hadn’t discovered before.


Offering expert Advisory across sectors, our dedicated Advisory and Sales Agency teams combine strategic insight with transparent advice to guide our clients seamlessly through the market. We always welcome the opportunity to discuss our strategies and services in depth.