22/04/2024 2:25 AM

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Art Collecting Tips for Profit and Pleasure (A Six-Part Series): Part 6 – Leaving a Legacy of Art

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PART 6 – LEAVING A LEGACY OF ART

What a waste when wonderful collections of art are decimated upon the collector’s
demise! This happens all too often because of the lack of records and instructions
left behind concerning the art pieces.

Ignorance results in the art being relegated to a dusty and moldy storeroom or,
worse, being consigned to the trash. More conscientious ‘beneficiaries’ may give
away the pieces to thrift stores and charities. Commonly, haulers are summoned to
dispose of the pieces. Some shrewd haulers have learned to consult art dealers on
their ‘finds’, as they have discovered that there can be gold in dirt.

Imagine paying someone to take away priceless art! Sadly, this scenario is played
out year after year around the world, because too many art collectors fail to plan for
future owners of their art. Have you planned for posterity?

Who would you like your art collection to go to some day? A loved one? A charity? A
foundation? Or perhaps a museum? Who will be the beneficiary of your much-loved
and treasured art? If you don’t want your art pieces to fall into undesirable hands or
be destroyed, you’ll need to start keeping detailed records and make clear
provisions NOW.

The Importance Of Documentation

Some years ago, while clearing out my parents’ rambling old house which had just
been sold, I came across 10 glass beer mugs, stored away in a small musty
storeroom under the staircase. The mugs were plain and ordinary-looking, except
for a circular, thumbnail-sized design an inch below the rim. No documents
accompanied them.

For a moment, I contemplated keeping the mugs, as I thought they could serve
some practical use around my own home, although they were rather unattractive.
That moment passed very quickly, as I still had much clearing and packing to do.
After all, the mugs appeared very pedestrian. I knew that I could always get more
appealing-looking mugs whenever I wanted. So I left the mugs behind in the old
house. I don’t know if anyone ever took them before the demolition crew started
their work.

Less than a month later, there was a newspaper advertisement looking for beer
mugs just like the ones I had seen in my parents’ old house. The company which
had placed the ad was willing to pay $500 for each mug in good condition turned
in. Those 10 mugs I had left behind were practically in mint condition. I could have
cried.

From Treasure To Junk

Have you ever seen the sign “We buy junk and sell antiques”? While this may sound
humorous, there’s also a lot of poignancy and irony intermingled. Don’t let your art
treasures become junk. Do your utmost to ensure that they are treated with respect
and go where you wish them to go.

List Options And Directions

Whatever the size of your art collection, do provide a list of options and directions
to go with it. Besides the usual documentation which should accompany every item,
this should include the contact particulars of parties who can assist in the valuation,
sale or dispensation of the art pieces.

Choose Beneficiaries

Do also mention any parties you may like to give your art to. Remember, you may
know the subject and its market like the back of your hand, but others probably
won’t. Don’t leave your beneficiaries at the mercy of opportunists or others who
may not be able to appreciate the value of your art collection.

Provide Values

It’s a very good idea to include the insurance or replacement values of your art
pieces. You might even wish to provide suggested wholesale values, so your
beneficiaries will be more prepared should they decide to sell your art pieces.

Ideally, if you haven’t already begun, let the people closest to you understand the
importance of your art collection now. Once they develop a healthy respect for it,
the chances improve that your art collection will be in good hands and go where you
want it to go.

Be an artful collector – plan like a pro all the way.

Copyright © 2006 Carol Chua

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