What You Need to Know About Hiring an Art Consultant

Artwork Archive | January 26, 2016 (Updated April 12, 2021)

An Art Advisor Is Like a Business Partner and Friend for Your Art Collection

Working with an art consultant, also known as an art advisor, comes with many perks.

It’s more than just defining your style and purchasing art.

“What really matters most is finding someone who looks like they have an awareness in the kind of work that engages you,” Kimberly Maier, representative of the Association of Professional Art Advisors, says. “This is someone you’re spending time with,” she continues. “You’re going to be going to museums and refining what your interest really is.”

In this second in a two-part series on working with an art consultant, we discuss what you need to know after hiring and working with one. Start with part one to learn the overarching responsibilities of an art advisor and why they are a valuable addition to your art collection’s team.

1. Art Advisors Should Require a Written Agreement

Maier suggests that you think of your advisor as you would your lawyer or accountant: “You have a written agreement with your lawyer and accountant.” This is where you can discuss details  like the hourly rate or retainer, what’s included in the service, and how long the payment or retainer extends. Different services may also have different rates. For example, an art advisor may charge a different fee when sourcing art versus putting together filing documents to upload into your Artwork Archive account.

2. Art Advisors Can Help Protect Your Collection in the Following Ways:

Art advisors are very familiar with the nitty-gritty details of owning an art collection. They are a great resource when managing facets like taxes and estate planning. Here are 5 art collection details where your consultant can advise:

Proper Insurance: An art advisor should be well-versed in how to secure the proper insurance for your collection. Learn more about fine art insurance here.  

Selling Artwork: If you are interested in selling a piece of art, the first suggestion is always to contact the original seller, whether that be a gallery or artist. Your art consultant can assist in this. If the gallery or artist is not available or interested in taking back the art, your consultant can assist in selling the work.

Conservation: Art advisors will either be familiar with or have the tools to research the different conservationists in your area. They can find a candidate with the experience needed as well as manage the art repairs and restorations.

Shipping & Shipping Insurance: If you need to ship a piece of art, special attention and care should be given to the packaging and shipping insurance. In some cases, it is inadvisable to ship certain works and you need to know when these situations arise. Your art advisor can handle this for you.

Estate Planning: Advisors are a knowledgeable resource to consult when going through the beginning stages of planning an estate. Learn more about planning your estate here.

Sales Tax: When purchasing art out of state or filing taxes, advisors are experienced in the best way to handle your payments. “Sales tax is definitely an issue across the country,” Maier asserts. “The laws are different in different states.”

“If you buy a piece in Miami and ship it to New York, you won’t have to pay sales tax but you will be responsible for use tax,” Maier explains. “You need to be aware of this and discuss it with your advisor and accountant. Galleries might not always be free with that information.”

3. Art Advisors Will Help You Contextualize the Work

An art advisor is familiar with how to steward a collection through time. “You want to hire someone that understands the parameters of caring for the work in your possession for a few decades,” Maier says. An art advisor is a resource to further your satisfaction and success when making changes and additions to your art collection. “Art advisors are here to help you.”

Advisors, consultants, conservators, restorers, dealers, and galleries, oh my! Learn what all these art professionals do, and more, in our free e-book, Essential Guide to Collecting Art.

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