Many people own a painting or other art work by an Aboriginal artist that they decide they wish to sell. What are the options – and how do you go about selling a painting?
Below we describe the various possibilities and things that you will need to consider. Many of these apply just as much to selling a non-Aboriginal art work, but there are some particular aspects of selling Aboriginal art that should be considered, including differences in the market.
Understand your art work and possible buyers
To be an informed seller it is important that you know about the artist and your painting. This helps with understanding how valuable your painting might be and to develop a marketing story for the painting. For example, if the artist is well known or successful, has a distinctive style at different times and has recognised important themes in their work then these will affect the possible selling price. Similarly, it helps to know if there is current demand for the artist or their region – whether they are in or out of fashion.
Decide the value of your painting
In the end, when selling a particular painting the value is the price that another person will pay and that you are willing to accept. This may seem obvious, but many people are concerned that they will not estimate the value of their painting correctly and so let a bargain slip from their grasp.
To get a feeling for the value of your painting (what payment you might receive for it) you need to be an informed seller and to tap into as many sources as possible, including previous auction results, current gallery prices and online listings. On a separate page we discuss valuation and appraisal of Aboriginal art. If you think your painting may be valuable, it is worth considering having it appraised by a professional valuer.
Once you have an idea of what the market value of your painting might be, you have to make another decision - the minimum price you would be willing to accept for the painting. This is important because many of the methods for selling can involve significant costs or commissions that might mean you receive only around half of the sale price paid by the buyer. If the return is too low then you might decide just to keep the painting.
Consider possible ways to sell your painting
Unless you are the artist yourself, selling a particular Aboriginal painting means that you are taking the painting back into the so-called “secondary market”. The secondary market for Aboriginal art works is limited and consists of traditional auction houses, online sites and a small number of art galleries. Auction houses are the main established way for re-selling an art work, though online outlets are growing in number and range. For more discussion see our page on the Aboriginal Art Market.
Whichever method or methods you choose, you are more likely to be successful if you have good digital images of the work and as much documentation of its authenticity and origins as possible. Records or certificates from well-established art galleries and community art centres greatly strengthen the provenance (history of origin and ownership) of the work.
On the next page we look at ways to sell an Aboriginal painting.
We also receive inquiries about investment in Aboriginal
art - see our page on Aboriginal