A Damien Hirst shark was auctioned for £9.6m earlier this week, prompting much debate about the value of art and the price of fish. The buyer no doubt believed that they'd made a wise investment and secured a timeless item of beauty, but few of us would have the confidence (or the budget) to make a purchase like this.
For obvious reasons, the organisers of the Buy Art Fair at Urbis want us all to feel like purchasing art isn't the preserve of the rich. Galleries from around the UK and Europe will be gathered there from 9 to 12 October, with paintings, sculptures, ceramics and photography all for sale. To help you prepare for your shopping spree, they've collected a few tips from the Hong Kong Art Fair on buying for beginners.
Firstly, they suggest you only buy art that you actually like, even if you're purchasing it as an investment. There's no guarantee that it will ever be worth more than it is now, and even if it does go up in value, you've still got to live with it for years before you cash it in.
Aspiring art investors are advised to do some research before buying. Ask for a copy of the artist's CV and have a look at their other work to gage whether they're consistent in their output. Though as with all financial investments, past performance is no indication of future returns, and creative types with their whims and mood swings can be even more volatile than the current-day stock market.
Practical tips include measuring the space you want to fill before choosing a painting – you can make a small canvas a focal point for a large wall, but don't try to squeeze a vast landscape into a poky corner. Ask the seller for advice on frames, hanging and lighting. Frames are particularly important – if you get it right, it'll enhance the painting. Get it wrong and it could make the artwork look odd and uneasy.
If you're short on funds, some galleries will let you pay in instalments. Others offer the equivalent of a 'cooling off period' where you can get a full refund if you return your picture without damage a few weeks after purchase.
Finally, don't buy 'limited edition reproduction prints' if you're trying to provide for your retirement: they're the equivalent of Ikea-style posters and can be worth about as much, regardless of whether they are numbered and signed by the artist. And even if you're not in it for the money there's nothing worse than seeing the print that you gave pride of place.
To take advantage of the 2 for 1 on tickets, click here.