Like the real estate and stock markets, the market for fine art and antiques also took quite a dive in 2009.  The good news is that now is a great time to buy and invest in some quality pieces.  Investing in fine art and antiques is a great way to diversify your portfolio.  Although you may not get similar returns as other investments, the joy of having beautiful art and furniture around is a value in itself.  Whatever your tastes, be it mid-century modern to to Louis XV gilt-wood, consider buying an investment piece to enhance your decor and lifestyle.  While you may not make much profit even if your investment appreciates, these are pieces that you can hand down from generation to generation.  The things that are the most valuable to my heart are items that I inherited, it is a way to stay connected with your history.

When buying Antiques and Art always buy from a reputable dealer.  The most important thing to remember when investing, is buy only what you love.  Unless you have the storage and are buying with the intent of reselling rather then passing them on, don’t buy pieces solely because they are a good value.  To make sure that you buy pieces that work well with your interiors, take along an Interior Designer with you on your buying trip, that way you don’t end up buying that piece of furniture on impulse that you have no where to put when you get home.

One fun way to buy art and antiques is from an auction house.  You can also usually get the best deal there as well, and sometimes you even get a steal.  Some reputable auction houses such a Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco, and Chrisie’s and Sotheby’s in New York, hold auctions several times a year.  If you can’t make it to New York you can sign up to bid by phone, but that kind of takes the fun out of it in my opinion.

When looking for Art to invest in, consider some of the undervalued works of Bugiardini and van Baden.  And don’t forget about Prints and Photographs.  Several good-quality Kertesz prints sold last fall for in the $5,000 to $12,000 range.  And according to Stephen Perloff, editor of the The Photograph Collector, the number of collectors interested in them is growing.  If you do plan on buying pieces for investment, stay away from anything that is not in excellent condition or needs reupolstering or refinishing, as doing so could considerably lower the value of the item.  For more information on how to buy at an action house check out my blog on How to Have Fun and Buy Furniture and Art at an Auction House.

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