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Investing in fine art
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So you want to invest in fine art but don't know where to start.

You start by educating yourself. If going back to school is not an appealing thought, there's no need to worry! Time in a classroom may be substituted with time at art galleries online or in your local area, and of course, museums. Getting to grips with artists, with art movements, with genres and periods is one major part of your homework.

Whenever on vacation, for example, check out the galleries in that locale and ask lots of questions. Just be honest and let the salesperson know you're there to learn, not necessarily to buy.

What to ask? Ask what style the painting or sculpture is. Ask what school the artist expanded his talent at and what mediums were used for the art. Find out when the piece was made, what the artist was trying to accomplish and whether there is a history behind the art.

As knowledge accumulates, you will begin to see what is good for your taste and what isn't. But most importantly, your personal taste will start to develop.

Ready to start a collection? Not so fast! First, decide whether the collection will be strictly for personal use or for investment. Once that is decided, the actual purchasing might take different directions. If personal use is the ultimate goal, then buy with your heart. If, on the other hand, investment is more important, value and authenticity is imperative.

When buying for personal use, remember that art is art. So long as the style of your furnishings and the style of art are generally in the same vicinity, all is well. Art stands on its own, so it is not necessary to color coordinate or be specific about the period or era the art depicts as compared to the furnishings in the home.

In the colorful world of art, the business of investing is black and white. You buy a piece of artwork, and hope the artist's work goes up in value. Experts say you might not need to wait long. It can happen within hours of your purchase! Collecting art can be one of the most enjoyable ways to spend your money. An engaging work can provide its owner with a lifetime of visual pleasure -- and then fetch cash. As with any other field, you must do your homework before investing.

Investing in art can be financially rewarding. But before you are able to re-sell, a statement of authenticity and a history of the origin are necessary. Be sure to get these two documents before you buy, as these papers give assurance that the art is the real McCoy. Scarcity increases value, so a limited editions will go up in price when the final piece is sold, and obviously, once an artist dies.

Art, just like stocks, will yield more on a long-term basis. With fluctuations in the market, the longer you are able to hold onto a piece, the more likely the value will increase. So take it home, enjoy it for about 10 years, then consider selling.

One way to check value trends is to ask more questions. Find out whose art is gaining popularity. Ask what country or school of art is trading the best value. Of course, everything is speculative, but the more knowledge that is accumulated, the better guess you'll be able to make.

Another important point to keep in mind is the legitimacy of the dealer. Check around to make sure the dealer is on the up-and-up. Get several references and then check them out. If investing a lot of money, you'll want to be sure the deal is legitimate.

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