The Art of Negotiation: How to Sell your Artwork

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The video other art dealers don’t want you to see. Tips from an art dealer with 25 years of experience on what you need to know before you ever sell your artwork.


The Art of Negotiation: How to Sell your Artwork

This is the video that no art dealer wants you to hear: it’s the art of negotiation. It’s the one time that you really need to understand how you go about negotiating with a dealer when you’re going to go sell something.

Now, for myself, what I try to do is: really I set the price at the most I can pay for it. It just kind of cuts out all the nonsense, and if I get it, I get it, and well, if I don’t, I feel okay about it, because I really gave it my best shot. And as a general rule, I try to go ahead and give that price without hearing what you, the consumer, or somebody who brought it in tells me it’s worth. And this is for a couple reasons.

One, I feel good about it. I know (that) it takes all the ambiguity out of the process. Two, I actually don’t want (and it sounds crazy), but I don’t want to buy something extremely cheap when it’s worth a lot more; it’s just not fair; it’s not right, and as a dealer, we do have some responsibilities, at least I hope I do, and I hope my cohorts do as well.

But, one of the things you want to do as a person bringing in the piece of art is let that dealer tell you what it’s worth. They should be able to, if they’re a specialist; they you should be able to tell you. If they’re not a specialist and want to handle it, then they’re going to bring in somebody.

Pawn Stars – the guy Rick – always brings in somebody when he doesn’t know exactly the value, so he has an idea of what the good value is, because he also doesn’t want to buy something even though he wants to get it as cheap as possible and he’ll always ask you “what do you want for it” first, but at the same time, I know he wants to buy and pay a fair amount, and that’s why he brings those in. He also doesn’t want to buy something that’s not right, or (you know) it could be a fake, and there are a lot of those out there.

Two, one of the things you have to realize if you’re going to go sell things, and a lot of times you’re doing it on the Internet, you better be careful who you send it to, because there’s a lot of things that can happen in that process. One is the dealer may get a painting and go, “Wow, this is great, but I can’t afford it,” and they start shopping it around everywhere, trying to get the best price they can before they even talk to you.

So, make it clear from the start if you’re selling through the Internet, that that person (that dealer) you’re sending it to is (that it’s) for his eyes or her eyes only, and not to be shopping the painting. I think that’s a very important aspect most people don’t realize. If a dealer makes an offer often it’s a very good offer, because if they’re specialists in that field they want the piece. As a general rule, most dealers are going to offer about half of the retail value of what they would sell it for in their shop. So, it should be that level.

Now, there are pieces that I’ve paid nearly retail for because I really wanted them, and you know if you don’t realize what your piece is worth beforehand, and you haven’t done any research, you may not realize that dealer’s making you an amazing deal.

Many times I’ve told people who have brought something to me to buy, and they say, “Well, dealer offered me X.” I go, “You need to go back and take that offer. That was a great offer,” and I say that it’s very important because dealers can also go, “Hey, I’ve seen this. You’re shopping it around. I’ve given you a great offer and if you’re not interested, then I’m just not interested either.” And sometimes you’ll come back with that piece and go, “Okay, I’ll take your offer.” I’m going to go, “No, forget it. You’ve shopped around, and I’m not interested.” So, there’s an emotional component not only for you as the seller, but also as you as the buyer.

So, you have to realize when you’re doing this (that) it’s very important that you know what you’re looking at (with) your own piece. Do your research first before you ever call the dealers, and once you have kind of a general idea, then shop it around (maybe one or two additional people), but not much more than that because you’re going to lose the deal. And the art of the negotiation is to get the most you can at the fairest price.



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