Collecting: an expert’s view

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As an ardent art collector, Patrick van der Vorst, founder of valuemystuff.com and its associated sites, which include auctionmystuff.com, heeds the much-touted advice to buy what you love. However, he concedes that most collectors probably do also have one eye on an item’s potential to appreciate in value.

“In one of my recent blogs for the Huffington Post, I spoke about the collecting contemporary art and people’s obsession with collecting for investment purposes rather than for the love of collecting,” he says. “Most ask whether they should buy art and antiques as an investment, which any collector will vehemently deny as the best course of action; but all the same the question is a valid one.

“It is such a hot topic of conversation because people are constantly trying new ways to hedge their bets by following a collecting trend and in doing so receive more for their investment.”

Van der Vorst cites the advice of Sir David Tong, Founder of Shanhai Tang and Owner of the China Club, who has said when it comes to collecting, the only question he asks when buying an artwork is whether he would want to get out of bed and see it in the morning. Buying from an interior design perspective is also inadvisable; Tong believes that the moment you ask where you are going to hang a piece, you are asking the wrong question.

“I echo Sir David Tong’s thoughts regarding the importance of buying art that you wish to see and art that will continue to be aesthetically pleasing in the early morning before the coffee has hit your cerebral epicentre.

“However, the question of what or who to collect is still valid as it is hard to imagine the person who wishes to buy an object projected to depreciate in the near future,” says van der Vorst, who is a keen Post War, Modern and Contemporary art collector with a passion for antique furniture.

“I am always looking for new contemporary artists who cast a new glance on painting or drawing. One of my favourite artists is Yves Klein. His blues cheer up my blues so to speak!” he says.

“In this world we need beautiful and inspiring things to infiltrate our everyday lives – some people get this from music, others through words and then some of us through art.  Inhabiting a space is a creative act and I choose to express myself through the art that I collect.”

When it comes to deciding to sell a piece, his best advice is to sell when you are ready to part with an item.

“Being forced to sell because of economic pressures is never a fun way to sell,” he says. “That being said, a good way to know when to sell is to follow market and seasonal trends. Predicting the market, whether financial or art, can seem like an opaque process for those who do not live and breathe the relevant news and results.

“The advice that I can give, and do give people, is to become familiar with the auction season and the different auction houses. Look at results and see what people are selling – ask yourself what does well and think of the reasons why.”