Diddy Pays $21 Million for Painting By Black Artist: Here are 9 Tips On Collecting Art for Average Folks

Diddy Pays $21 Million for Painting By Black Artist: Here are 9 Tips On Collecting Art for Average Folks

The news just broke that Sean “Diddy” Combs paid $21 million for a painting by 62-year-old African American artist  Kerry James Marshall. The purchase is said to be the highest ever for artwork by a living artist and the most expensive work created by a black artist.

More and more black celebrities are purchasing artwork not just as an investment, but as a way to create multi-generational wealth. Jay-Z and Beyoncé are known art aficionados; Hov even name drops famous artists in several of his songs. Who can forget the power couple bringing along little Blue Ivy to what may have been the first of many art auctions in her life to come. Swizz Beatz is an avid art collector of painters such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat

(Max Pixel)

While art collecting is typically associated as a hobby for the rich, everyday people can also become art collectors.

A valuable art collection is purposeful. Art appreciation is more than admiring pieces or acquiring solely to hold long-term. A diversified asset portfolio includes real estate, as well as collectibles, of which art is ideal.

Here are 9 tips for art lovers and those new to art collecting

1. Decide on a Budget

Collecting is a commitment that requires being intentional about works, then planning purchases, both piece-by-piece and multiples for grouping over time. An amateur or rising collector should initially spend modestly, from $50 to $5,000, to buy what they love.

2. Select a Direction

Art has many forms, including photography, paintings, and illustrations to fine art, contemporary, collages, mixed media, and more. For a novice, prints of well-known, more established art or photography is a more affordable start. For the more experienced, seek emerging artists on the verge. The most important thing is to personally connect with the subject matter and mediums, rather than focusing on price, popularity, trend, or speculation of future value. Explore what piques your curiosity and even experiment. Be true to and deliberate with your tastes.

Artist Ernie Barnes (Wikimedia)

3. Do Your Due Diligence

Assign time to thoroughly expose and educate yourself with research by browsing online resources and sellers, social media, and curators. You should also make an effort to visit museums, gallery openings, exhibits, art fairs, artist studio visits, and M.F.A. shows. Even with what you know and collect already, the knowledge process is ongoing. Proactively learn in order to evaluate advice; comparison shop between galleries, online, or collectors; prevent overpaying; and be an informed buyer.



4. Solicit Discussion

Speak with as many experts as possible, from curators to gallery personnel, artists, collectors, art insiders, and advisers. Also, search for emerging talent that might not be as expensive for the style of art. Independent art consultant Schwanda Rountree advises, “Learn and buy from reputable dealers, as they are knowledgeable and follow artists’ careers.


5. Diversify

A great collector is systematic when purchasing specific works and arranging them to relate as a group, promote history, and evolve understanding. With maturity comes respect as an authority, plus the potential to set standards and influence trends for future collecting.

Managing partner and chief investment officer Allan Boomer advises, “When chosen carefully, art can be a store of value and used as collateral for loans. Collectors often loan their works to prestigious galleries, and/or donate pieces for tax deductions.”



6. Authenticate, Appraise, and Document

Get a certificate of authenticity to ensure appraisal and sale. Keep records of each work, especially if it is expected to increase in value, and negotiate if framing and delivery are included.


7. Till Death Do You Not Part

According to Boomer, “Many families pass wealth on to future generations by including art within the family inheritance.

Provide specific instruction on what to do with and how to care for art, when the owner passes. Include information about the art, records, worth, and whether to sell, donate, betroth, or throw it away. As art is an expression, and the essence of collecting is the distinguishable sureness of individual characteristics for every piece, coupled with an overall understanding of common threads.


8. Be a Patron of the Diaspora

Rountree’s client base is devoted to collecting work by artists from the diaspora. The work ranges from abstract, figurative, and conceptual work in the form of contemporary paintings, drawings, sculpture, video, and photography. She explains, “The collectors and institutions I consult with understand the importance of being custodians of artwork, which ultimately create meaningful dialogue among a range of people.”


9. Go to an Art Fair

Invest in artisans of color by discovering, viewing, and purchasing their works at art fairs. Here are a few suggestions for some of the biggest art fairs in the world:

New York
The Amory Show
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Art Basel
Prizm Art Fair

EXPO Chicago

Harlem Fine Arts Show Martha’s Vineyard

Texas Contemporary Art Fair

Basel Switzerland
1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair London
Frieze London

Biennale of Contemporary African Art Dakar
Art X Lagos


—Editor’s Note: This article originally published in November 2016