Eeny Meeny 

Q:  “Tete de femme” (Marie-Therese [Bloch 250]) is starting to get “under my skin”.  I am sure you understand the feeling.  What’s your opinion…own more individual works at lower prices, or wait and purchase more significant works (i.e. current case in point)?  -Gary J.

A:  As you know, Gary, I think more like a collector than an art dealer, so “it’s getting under my skin” strikes me as a really apt metaphor.  It seems to me that when you reach the threshold of pulling the trigger on a given acquisition, the feeling you have is typically some combination of, “That is a great piece of art, I would love for it to grace our walls, it is within budget, and it is well priced.”  But I can’t exactly answer your question.  I think it depends on the relative aesthetic appeal of each of the pieces.  It may be too reductionist and impersonal to venture a cold, hard formula, but I think I’ll hike way out on a limb and do it anyway.  Perhaps it is not absurd to consider that a piece that costs twice as much should add twice as much pleasure and meaning to your momentary experience (and to your life).  I can see right off the bat that there needs to be a fudge factor, because for one thing, sometimes you have to pay a little more than you wish, whereas at other times an acquisition may seem like a bargain.  To build a collection, even a small one, I have felt that I needed to be prepared to accept both of these eventualities.  Though of course a bargain needs less preparation.

Quite obviously, it follows from the above “formula” that if you imagine you would derive more pleasure and meaning from a single piece that costs $2X than the sum of the pleasure and meaning from two pieces each costing $X, then you should should get the 2X piece, or vice versa.  The problem is, you can’t exactly reduce feelings to numbers, and so it’s hard to say exactly what pleasure and meaning “multiple” to accord to the $2X piece relative to the $X pieces.  As usual, the devil’s in the deets.

I’m thinking that the above is so obvious that you must have already thought it out and gotten stuck somewhere along the way for reasons that I haven’t divined.  Pardon the weak effort if all this is really obvious to you….

Actually, there’s another factor worth considering in your decision tree:  historically, pricier art has tended to appreciate faster. To the extent that the past is predictive—and it seems to me that it would be in this case, it might be worth weighing the significance of this market preference.  -Kobi

Q: Regarding your formula, you summed it up pretty well.  The subjective nature of all the “values” used, as you know, is the problem.  I asked my question because I thought I saw somewhere in one of your blogs/etc. a discussion of this issue (quantity vs. significance/pleasure/meaning).  I could be wrong, and I am not sure where to find the discussion now.

My conclusion is that I would like to purchase B250.  You seem to be getting to know me fairly well, and I am sure you are not surprised.  However, I need to come up with a little more $$….  I wish my art budget was on par with my taste, but my future in this regard will most likely not change.   You were smart to choose a more prosperous career/profession.…  For now, it’s one day, one piece of art at a time.  -Gary J.