Larry’s Little Black Book: Collect With Etiquette

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As the prosperous, the celebrities and art world professionals alike gathered to Miami for its art-event packed week, people splurged and we noticed. To be a collector in this competitive art world environment, especially at art fairs such as this one in Art Basel Miami Beach – or any of its satellite events – requires one to be ruthless in hunting for art pieces. Since, as we all know, gallerists won’t hold on to it until you make your final decision. The time you come back to view it once more before handing over your credit card, it’ll be gone: game over. Although it may involve risk-taking and cutthroat competition, being an art collector also entails important etiquette standards to follow. Since, let us not forget, in times of art fairs, it is about the art, the artists and widening your gallery contacts.
Larry’s List reveals its Little Black Book on collecting enigmas and manners on how to be a “badass” collector in today’s collecting scene.


1 – Have impeccable knowledge of estimates of top lots at auction:
It is crucial to know what is too much and how much money you need at hand once spending $100 million on a painting. Whether it is from an academic point of view or an economical one, ask your trusted art circles for guidance. Do make a splurge, but make sure it’s worth it.

2 – Be a finance God:
This leads to our second point – understand the market of your preferred art genre or medium. If you’re among this new breed of collectors setting records by selling and buying new artworks, you ought to develop a sixth sense of when to sell and when to buy.

3 – Be open-minded:
Aim to not have mainstream taste. Go out of your comfort zone and buy works by artists you may not be able to understand. Distinguish yourself from the crowd and build an eclectic and stimulating collection as you challenge yourself by expanding your aesthetic horizons.

4 –Apply yourself:
You want to be an art collector? Then you better strap on and get to the books and travel (if you can). Understand what you are after, what you like and how to get into the “artist’s universe.” Aim to get a full spectrum of styles, genres: the more you see, the more you will implement your personality into your collection.

5 – Buy in depth:
If you want to be an old school collector, collect an entire artist’s lifework in depth. Yes, it can be done.

6 – Be credible:
To be respectful and respected among the art collecting world, it is vital to pronounce an artist’s name correctly when explaining your taste. Especially, if you’re into Middle Eastern artists, you better know how to pronounce: Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian.

7 – Good manners:
Remember that every little courteous act goes a long way. To be seen, heard and valued take a curator for lunch, a gallerist for dinner or an artist for a beer: every art collector swears by it.

8 – Bid on the phone or online at auctions:
In this day and age, no one needs to be physically present in a room. Today’s new collector generation are bidding on phones and online. Besides, who needs to be physically present in a room to make one’s wealth felt?

9 – Contribute to society:
The establishment of private art museums is an increasing and undeniable trend. For those who wish to make a mark on the art map (and history) as well as contributing to society in terms of culture and art, make your collection publicly accessible. Still, no need to open an immense top notch building: a variety of private collectors convert their private residences into museums, inviting visitors by appointment only. Alternatively, for full effect, you may also open 4 private art museums in your region such as Korean collector Kim Chang-Il’s Arario Museum empire.

10 – ‘Opportunity does not wait for you’:
As one of Asia’s greatest collectors once said, “bad art ‘begs’ you to buy it, but good art does not wait for you.” Art, at the end of the day, is about passion and instinct. If you felt that “tingle” then buy it on the spot. Do not try to negotiate prices or get a discount.


Claire Bouchara