Buying Fine Art at Auction: Use Caution

Buying Fine Art at Auction: Use Caution

In the image below from the classic television show The Dick Van Dyke Show, Howard Morris stars as an art expert looking at a two paintings in one – one over the other the first by Frank Sinatra signed Artanis and the second by a Grant Wood imitator whose name is Goode but not good.

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Throughout the history of buying art, collectors have attended auctions in the hopes of acquiring an undiscovered masterpiece or at little cost a work by a great and renowned artist or an as yet to be discovered artist whose subsequent popularity will make the purchase worth many times more than the intial investment.

The key to buying is to do your research on the artist. Utilize the numerous online sources such as,, and to learn about the artist and their value in the open market. Focus on the last three years of auction hammer prices to acquire a sense of what the artist might bring at auction and then bid with greater confidence. And in the excitement of the sale whether you have a paddle in your hand on the auction floor or your finger on the bid button stay calm or you just might end up with the painting below and buyer’s remorse!

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