If you love modern art, you’ll love these great tips from R L Sparks and Charlotte Perman, Private Collection curators for Martin Lawrence Galleries (MLG) in New York.  And after you purchase your new pieces, don’t forget to protect their value with the right insurance cover!

1. Condition is king.
We cannot overstate this. A great lesson and example would be to review the sale of Superman #1.  A printing of this comic categorised as a Grade 9.0 sold for $2.16 million in November 2011.  An edition categorized as an 8.5 sold in March 2010 for $1.5 million.  The difference between an 8.5 grading an a 9.0 was described to us as a “small fold in the cover”…a $616,000 fold to be precise! The same applies to art. The best condition works equate to the best values.

2. Don’t disregard prints.  
After all Andy Warhol was a printmaker and not renowned for his painting skills! Some of the most important works in art history are prints – Picasso’s deeply personal Vollard suite, Chagall’s stunning lithographic series Daphnes and Chloe, and Lichtenstein’s The Melody Haunts My Reverie, all of which are housed in museum collections.  Don’t get tied up in the “cult of canvas”!

3. Good buys can still be found under $10,000.  
Take Takashi Murakami for example, the so-called Andy Warhol of the 21st Century whose artwork hangs in the Museum of Modern Art.  Though his paintings and sculptures sell for millions of dollars, his hand-signed limited edition prints are available to purchase for under $10,000, with many under $5000.  These prints are exquisitely designed, employing some of the most high-tech practices in printmaking today – embossed backgrounds, layers of gloss inks and utterly unique style.

4. Buy for love, but only under $10,000. 
We both agree that collecting should be fun and owning art should be enjoyable.  If you can afford to decorate with art up to a price point of $10,000 then we support that, but beyond that we recommend making a more educated purchase that will hold its value in years to come. There is a strong likelihood that you will be able to marry the two, acquiring a piece you enjoy living with that will also secure your initial investment, if not improve upon it.

5.  Buy to hold.
The media is rife with stories of people ‘flipping’ small purchases for high returns but these are the exception to the rule.  True collectors buy to hold and by doing so see the best return on their investment. In truth one should be looking to buy with a view to living with the art for a minimum of 5 years.  A speculator and a collector are two very different things!

About Sparks & Perman

R.L. Sparks and Charlotte Perman manage Private Collections for the Martin Lawrence Galleries.  With almost 40 years’ history, MLG likely has the largest privately held inventory of any gallery or collector, amounting to some 10,000+ units of art, all owned, none on consignment.  Sparks and Charlotte specialize in the rarest works from within the collection by the most significant artists of the 20th Century, including Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Marc Chagall, Sam Francis, Salvador Dali, Alexander Calder and Keith Haring.