The Cost of Maintaining a Fine Art Collection

Artwork Archive | May 9, 2018 (Updated April 12, 2021)

What is the true cost of art ownership?

Whether a collector builds a collection for passion or investment, care of the collection is essential in maintaining its integrity.

Aside from maintaining the data on a collection with a secure user-friendly database like Artwork Archive, there are ways to physically take care of a collection to ensure that it maintains its quality and security, much like a home.

We spoke to several experts including art consultant Martha Weidmann of Nine dot Arts and President of Art Appraisal Firm LLC, Cindy Charleston Rosenberg, to get the scope of what it costs to maintain a fine art collection. 



Appraisals should be obtained prior to making financial decisions related to the artwork including but not limited to the sale of the artwork, estate planning, tax planning and estimating insurance coverage.

Qualified appraisers follow the standards set for appraisers by The Appraisal Foundation and can be found through various organizations including ISA (International Society of Appraisers), AAA (Appraisers Association of America) or ASA (American Society of Appraisers).

In terms of appraisal costs, Cindy Charleston Rosenberg states that "in metropolitan areas, hourly fees customarily range $150-$500 per hour for a qualified ISA, AAA or ASA appraiser. In addition to requiring a meaningful credential, collectors should avoid appraisers charging a fee based on a percentage of the valuation or with a potential interest in the sale of the subject property." It is also important to review the contents of the appraisal report as it will state what the report may not address such as authenticity and legal title.



An art collection should be insured against theft, fire, flood, and any other damages that may impact its physical well-being.

A homeowner’s policy that covers fine art may be a good start, but as a collection grows and important pieces are added, an insurance policy that specializes in fine art may be worth an inquiry to a broker. Just like specialized fine art insurance policies, there are brokers that work only with fine art and other important collectibles. In addition to property insurance, collectors may also want to consider purchasing title insurance to ensure they have clear legal titles to their collection, much like a real estate title policy.


Conservation is not just for museums. Taking care of the art will ensure that it is in the best condition that a collector can provide when one day preparing to sell, gift or donate it.

Collectors can work with a private conservation center to have objects cleaned or repaired. This may require an initial consultation fee and an hourly fee of $85-$250 which may include travel time, inspection, photography, research and preparing written reports. Some companies have a minimum charge as well. A scientific analysis may also be included in conservation efforts, which include various forms of imaging techniques including ultra-violet fluorescence, infrared reflectography and transmitted infrared.

Art consultant Martha Weidmann mentions specialized care of works of certain mediums. "For example, an outdoor sculpture made of wood needs to be oiled once a year. Artwork that is created from a digital medium will need software updates or possibly recoding in the future." Collectors should ask their advisors or the artist directly for a maintenance plan to care for the artwork.



A collection may require services from a professional installer who has the expertise and equipment to properly install art objects.

If installed incorrectly, the object could be damaged from falling or may hurt a person. There may also be several parts of the object that are complicated to install.

Martha Weidmann estimates $150 per hour for art installation. Professional art installers may be found via art installation networks.



Storage designed especially for art provides a safe secure space and proper temperature control for the collection.

Fees for art-focused storage are different depending on the city and can vary depending on the type of object and its climate and spatial needs. There are companies in the U.S and internationally that provide storage for art and high-value collectibles. These may also include freeports, which are storage tax havens for fine art. Freeports can be found in Delaware and New York in the U.S. and in Luxembourg and Switzerland in Europe.

It is also worth noting that storage facilities charge fees any time a collector wishes to retrieve their art from storage and/or return it to storage.


Crating and Shipping

Transporting a work to a destination for exhibition or sale requires professional crating, shipping and additional insurance costs.

Martha Weidmann estimates that in order to crate and ship one painting for example from Denver to New York, it would cost approximately $2,500.

In addition, collectors should be sure to review the insurance coverage for transport, as some shipping companies will only provide a small amount of coverage relative to the valuation of the artwork.


After purchasing artwork, the costs will continue through the lifecycle of ownership.


Some objects may need more maintenance than others, but collectors should be prepared to continue to invest in their collections to uphold them to the highest standard.


Looking for an economical start to your art collection? Get started with drawings and prints. Find out how to find your first piece now

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