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From the experts: 5 tips for buying at Art Basel Hong Kong

Buying art is a serious business, and Art Basel Hong Kong is an opportunity not to be missed for collectors. Over 240 galleries from across the globe will be hauling choice pieces of contemporary art to the Fragrant Harbour and, if you play your cards right, some of it could be yours.

An art fair is the perfect place to take in a huge amount of paintings, sculptures and installations. What makes the Hong Kong edition of Art Basel so unique is that they also offer an equal number of galleries from the West and the East so there’s something for everyone.

If you are planning to part with some of your hard-earned cash at this year’s fair you’ll want to be prepared. Forever at your service, we tracked down some of the city’s finest art experts and asked them for tips on buying at Art Basel. Here’s what you need to know:

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1 /5

Do your research

The Art Basel buying fun doesn’t have to wait until Wednesday (March 22 2017). Before you even set foot in the hallowed halls of the Convention and Exhibition Centre, you’ve got to think about the sort of art you want to collect and know its history. Here’s what Fred Scholle, founder and chairman of Galerie du Monde, had to say to us:

“If you have already started collecting and are looking for work by specific artists at the fair, then research the artist very carefully, what his paintings have achieved at auctions for example, before you attend the fair. Buy only the best work of an artist.  Don’t buy less important pieces by an artist simply because the price is much cheaper. Collect the work of artists that you can afford and then do your research and buy only the best pieces you find available of that artist.”

2 /5

Make a plan and stick to it

As with most things in life you’ve got to have a game plan. For Art Basel Hong Kong this means sorting out your budget and establishing your plan of attack. Alex Errera, founder of premier online platform for Chinese contemporary art artshare.com, has this advice:

“Know what you want to spend and keep within your budget. Before you hit the fair, get a map. Circle the galleries that you’re really interested in. Then, do a tour of the entire fair, get a feel, let your eyes wander and see if there is something you like. Then do a second a tour a few hours later, and make sure you stop at the galleries that you are really interested in. Keep an open mind and allow yourself to be surprised.”

3 /5

Be curious and ask questions

Don’t be shy. No one expects you to be an art buff overnight. Stumbling upon unexpected artists and asking galleries questions you might think sound silly is all part of the fun. Gallerist Edouard Malingue tells us:

“Be curious and open to new artists, mediums, geographies. Do not be afraid to ask the gallerists for an introduction to an artist and their work.”

4 /5

Go with your heart

At the end of the day art is subjective. You may have stumbled upon one of the finest investments of the century, or you may not have. Always bear in mind that the piece might be on your wall for a long time so buy things you like and trust your judgement. Gregg McNamara, founder of McNamara Art Projects, says buying art is all about love:

“Collection is a passion, and a passion that should be seen as supporting artists that you believe in, whether for intellectual or aesthetic reasons. When you buy the work of an artist, you are supporting them to be able to continue their practice and evolve. One should aspire to be a patron of the arts in this sense. Only ever buy what you love, and what you know will make you happy when you live with it.”

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Always negotiate and don’t be rash

Don’t panic. Stand your ground and don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. If you don’t get the piece you’re after it’s not the end of the world. Alex Errera has these wise words:

“There is always margin to negotiate, depending on your relationship with the gallery. It’s a little tricky for new buyers as they might not know you. Discounts can be as much as 20 percent but you might want to start with 10 percent as a new buyer. There’s no need to rush. Even if you miss out on a piece that you had your eye on, the chances are that there will be something from the same artist coming up in the near future.”

From the experts: 5 tips for buying at Art Basel Hong Kong

Rik Glauert

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