Mouse Stew

I’ve got a bad habit of going way out on a limb in advising my current and prospective clients what art to buy and what to avoid. It’s a time-consuming process, yet I only occasionally succeed in my efforts to alter anyone’s tastes or collecting proclivities. And lately I’ve begun questioning whether or not I should even bother, given the low likelihood of success and the high likelihood of (unintentionally) offending. The following is a classic example of how such a line of reasoning crashed and burned. It regards a discussion I fell into about a couple of prints a collector had purchased years ago from Picasso’s illustrated book La Tauromaquia (1959, Bloch 950-976). I have a strong distaste for …

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The Determinants of the Relative Value of Prints

Question: Maybe you can help me understand why one print could be $95k and another could be $2k—is it all rarity? —Luke P. Response: Supply certainly influences demand, but it is not the only factor. A print’s price is also determined by the demand for that particular print, the richness of the impression (of the inked plate, block, or stone on the paper), the condition of the print, the size of the print, its colorfulness, and the presence of a signature. The demand for a given print is largely determined by the quality of the design, but is also subject to other prevailing preferences in the marketplace. For example, in Picasso prints, female portraiture generally commands a higher price than …

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The dual dangers of overpaying and of buying online

Dear Kobi, the article i read today [from your manuscript] was talking about the dangers of buying online and also the danger of paying too much for a work from a gallery because of overheads etc… this is a question i have asked myself for a while……which way to jump? take a risk online and buy hopefully a real and fair priced work or have a bit more piece of mind and buy from a brick and mortar gallery and in more cases than not pay too much for the work as they have great expenses like rent, staff, and their endless champagne and canapé parties.


Just like every significant museum with an interest in modern European art, even a collector as richly endowed as Norton Simon hoarded Picasso prints (and Rembrandts and Goyas) like they were going out of style. He acquired 710 Picasso prints but only five Picasso paintings. (Print dealers such as ourselves can only admire that ratio!) Presumably, he didn’t do it because, unlike many print collectors, prints were the only Picassos he could afford, but rather because the print medium, especially in the hands of Picasso, the greatest print innovator of all time, gave rise to unique and breathtakingly beautiful artistic expressions. The interesting essay on Mr. Simon’s approach to print collecting by Gloria Williams in Picasso, Graphic Magician: Prints from …


Collecting and Investing

I feel so lucky and delighted to have found you and your web site today. Thank you for an hour’s patient (sic) telephone tutorial and for your forum material – all of great interest. Your love of these prints and your consequent care of apprentice lovers like myself give a delightful foretaste of how life will be when human values (beauty, love, truth, justice, all that jazz……) rule the world. I’d expected a huge flash plate-glass office outfit, with scary secretaries and bosses who scorned my ignorance. I almost couldn’t make the call. Boy am I glad I did. You have prompted a (for me) revolutionary thought: if Picasso prints do indeed continue to appreciate apace, why should I not …

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Investment-Grade Picasso Prints

Question [paraphrased from a phone conversation]: Could you recommend those works in your catalogue which in particular would have the maximal future appreciation? -Daniella R. Response: I readily agree with your comment on the phone that not all Picassos are “created equal”, shall we say. Though many Picasso prints are truly masterworks, some clearly are not. The point is that, just like the stock market, the Picasso market already takes such factors into consideration when arriving at a valuation of each of his works. Furthermore, all of his works seem to appreciate in parallel. Provided that the price is right to begin with, appreciation is to be expected across the board. The nice thing about this is that a collector …

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Art as Investment

Question: Basically we’re new to buying art, so we are in the learning process, and, as much as people say, “Don’t buy art as investment,” it’s hard not to think that way. –Luke P. Response: I agree with you that it’s hard not to think of art as an investment, particularly when you’re paying a pretty penny for the art. I’ve always used the allure of the investment as a rationalization for collecting art, especially when I could ill afford it, but, to avoid self-delusion, the art must be truly collectible to qualify. Investing in a blue-chip artist is like buying blue chip stocks, unless you’re convinced you’ve spotted the next Picasso or the next Cisco. I don’t entirely agree …

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