Next week in NYC will be one of the preeminent art fairs in the United States. The Armory Show and the ADAA will feature some of the top contemporary and modern art dealers globally. Champagne will pour at the previews and each gallery will be featuring their top works to entice acquisition. 


Once I find a painting of interest, I put my emotion to the side and begin the serious work of performing my due diligence to ensure that the piece that I acquire has passed through a series of important “quality control” criteria.


Once I determine the quality is excellent, I begin the market analytics and the negotiation. For any artwork, regardless of price, there are basic criteria, which are the foundation of a high quality painting. 

  • Artist: How successfully does the artist sell at auction? How many times has the artist sold at auction? If the artist does not sell at auction, which galleries represent the artist and is the artist represented in museum holdings or has the artist participated in important exhibitions?
  • Medium: Generally original works such as oil on canvas, watercolor or ink on paper have a better chance of continuing to go up in value. Prints can be an excellent acquisition, but be careful of edition size and quality.
  • Size: A small work will never achieve a growth in value beyond a certain point. Works between 16 inches and 40 inches are the most logical size. However some contemporary artists always work in a larger scope.
  • Subject Matter: When you think of Andy Warhol, you may think of a Campbell’s Soup Can. That is because this is the subject matter, which is the essence of the Pop Art movement. The price for one of his works depicting a Soup Can will always surpass the price of a portrait of an unrecognizable figure.
  • Rarity: A work that is fresh to the market and has never been seen will generally be more expensive. A rare edition bronze or a low edition print will generally be more expensive than a high edition print.
  • Provenance: A painting previously exhibited in important shows and owned by notable collectors will have a higher price. In addition, provenance helps to establish authenticity of the painting.
  • Sales History: This is a huge red flag. Many dealers will acquire paintings when they go unsold because they can buy them at a better price. It is essential that you confirm the sales price at auction. Understanding the market for the artist is the beginning of your negotiation.

Once you have the answers for each of these criteria, you will have enough information to negotiate. In the art world, knowledge is power. We can determine, based on our analysis, the accurate price and whether the work is a good asset acquisition. Typically we can save a client upwards of 20% on a work of art.

This may seem like an overwhelming amount of information that you need in order to acquire a work. As art advisors and senior appraisers, we apply each of these criteria to every acquisition and to every value. We will be on hand at the Armory fair to provide this kind of analysis for you and your clients. If you need our expertise, call me directly at 215-688-2341 or email me at aheriot@pallmallartadvisors.com. If I am with a client and cannot pick up, call Shane Hall at 610-254-8400. We have a team of appraisers and advisors on hand researching works on behalf of our clients who are actively buying at the fair.

We charge $300 for a market analytics report, which provides a diagnostic analysis of the quality and market for the work of art. If you would like for us to produce a market analytics report and conduct the negotiations on your behalf, we will charge 5% of the final sales price to negotiate on your behalf. If you would like to have a senior advisor work personally with you at the fair; call Shane Hall who will set up an appointment, if one is available.

Don’t buy a painting based on emotion.

Remember to conduct your due diligence before you acquire any works of art.

– Anita Heriot, President

Click Here to View The Armory Show Calendar and Details