Curating Your Own Collection

DATE 11th Nov 2021

Fine art is an investment as well as an heirloom – here’s a guide to curating your collection.

Beginning an art collection may seem like an intimidating endeavour, from choosing an artwork to deciding when to buy. But with many auctions offering works without reserves and starting bids of just $100, it is possible to become a collector on any budget.

Sotheby’s is renowned for connecting art lovers with some of the most iconic works in the world; Monet’s “Meules” ($155.9 million), Picasso’s “Garçon à la Pipe” ($146.8 million), and Banksy’s incredible self-destructing “Girl with a Balloon” ($1.9 million), to name a few. Although these significant sales are at the top-end of the global art scale, beautiful art is achievable in any home. New York based Sotheby’s art specialist Elizabeth Pisano shares her tips for featuring fi ne art in your everyday spaces.

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Claude Monet’s “Meules”, the most glorious and effusive work from the artist’s famed Haystacks series, sold at a 2019 Sotheby’s auction for an astonishing $155.9 million. The winning bid shattered the previous record for the highest sum ever paid for a work by Monet.

The rule of three. When it comes to guidelines for successful collecting, Elizabeth suggests balancing your instincts with your budget and space restrictions. 

Instincts: “If you can’t stop thinking about a work, that’s usually a sign you should own it,” she says. “The collections I have seen appreciate most in value are the ones built by people who paid far less attention to trends and changing tastes and instead focused on things they truly loved and reacted to instinctively.”

Budget: “You will love something more if there is no financial guilt associated with it,” she says.

Space: “Ensure you have the appropriate space to feature your artworks.”


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“Garçon à la Pipe” by Pablo Picasso. Painted in 1905 when Picasso was 24 years old it sold at a Sotheby’s auction in 2004 for $146.8 million.

Delve into detail. The simplest way to learn more about an artwork or an artist is to ask questions. “Get in touch directly with the auction house or gallery offering a work. Ask for additional images and a condition report, or speak to a specialist about it in more detail,” says Elizabeth. 

Do your research. A solid grasp of history cannot be replaced. “Research is a collector’s best friend no matter how seasoned he or she is,” Elizabeth attests. “The internet is an incredible tool for learning about particular artists as well as reviewing past auction records.”

Follow your passion. “I really believe the primary reason for collecting works of art should be passion,” she says. “You really can’t go wrong if you pursue things you genuinely love and want to live with.”


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Banksy’s notorious 2006 painting “Girl with Balloon”, renamed as “Love is in the Bin” after it unexpectedly self-destructed immediately after it was sold at auction for a record $1.9 million.


NZ art at Aratoi

The New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty Wairarapa Art Review 2021 offi cially opens on Friday, December 10 at Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History in Masterton. The inspiring biennial art awards and exhibition runs for two months and showcases an exclusive selection of fi ne local art, all of which is available for purchase.

NZSIR Greytown sales associate Brady Bingham says the event offers a unique opportunity to acquire extraordinary and award-winning local works. “The Wairarapa Art Review is a fantastic event,” he says. “Aratoi is a very highly regarded history and art museum and we are proud to sponsor this exhibition and support our local community.”


Read more in the latest version of Property Style.