ART WORLD Q & A: Edition 10


For this edition of Art World Q&A, I reached out to Marc Hajjar, Associate Director of Business Development at Winston Art Group, the leading independent art appraisal and advisory firm. Marc shares his insight and experience with the current art market and the value of an appraisal.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

There has clearly been a heavy shift in the market towards Contemporary art. We have had a substantial number of clients become interested in more Contemporary artists than ever before. One way that we’ve been able to educate our clients is to take them around art fairs or auction previews. If they find something they like, we will negotiate for them directly with the dealers or bid on their behalf at auction.

On the sales side, we have noticed an increasing amount in Modern and Impressionist art come to market. This is mostly caused by a change in taste; newer generations favor different styles and decide to sell family collections. Further to this, we have seen many more stamp and coin collections come up for sale. We have been asked to advise several large transactions over the last 3 years of sizable and important numismatic or philatelic collections. Simply put, younger generations often have different collecting tastes and styles than their parents and grandparents.

2. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

As independent and objective appraisers, Winston Art Group often gets asked these types of questions. There are many different types of values: Fair Market Value, Retail Replacement Value, or Marketable Cash Value which have their own uses from accounting, to insurance, to collateral loans, respectively. Inevitably, the importance of artwork, collectibles, or jewelry should not depend on its value or cost, but the enjoyment you get from it. Nonetheless, it is still important to consider these objects as tangible assets that should be monitored and cared for with yearly reviews and condition checks which we regularly perform for some of our largest clients.

3. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

Whenever we are asked to buy for clients, we normally start with identifying artists that they like from a stylistic perspective, and then locate the best pieces by those artists on the market, whether offered by a gallery or in an upcoming auction. Galleries are great for clients who have a particular artist in mind but auctions let clients discover a whole range of artwork available. For us, we do not have a preference when advising. It mostly depends on the type of art and its availability on the market.

4. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

I think it would be useful to differentiate between pricing art and appraising it. While the methodology behind both is fairly similar, pricing suggests an interest in selling it while appraising provides solutions to issues. These solutions could be providing clients with a donation valuation, a loss in value after damage, or suggested insurance amounts to mitigate risk. In both instances, we rely heavy on market comparables and past public sales records.

5. What do you look for in the art you collect?

Personally, I’m a fan of smaller-scale pieces; works that my graduate school professor would proclaim as, “great for a New York apartment!” I stick mostly to contemporary art and design and have found it enjoyable to meet the artist and get to know him or her if that is possible. The price has to be right too, of course!

6. What is the best advise you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

It’s hard and intimidating to start collecting especially if you don’t have any formal background in art. We have had many clients like this over the last few years and we take the time to really figure out what they like. The best advice is to team up with an advisor who can help you get a foothold in the art scene and can guide decisions. No matter the price point, it is always good to have a seasoned professional by your side when you want to buy or sell any collectible.