Not everyone can afford to buy $100,000 paintings. Not everyone can afford to buy $1,000 paintings. That’s okay. The real value of artwork is not always measured by the price tag. Art collecting should be subjective first, then objective. What that means is a painting must talk to a collector before the purchase. That may take time. Some collectors study a piece of art for weeks or even months before they decide to buy it. Other collectors see a painting and within five minutes they are walking out the door with it. A few big name collectors like to operate that way. They want to purchase a painting before someone else buys it, so they react quickly. Other collectors like the oddball artists that express themselves in unique ways on canvas. Those collectors may not buy a painting until the oddball effect reaches into their collecting soul and prompts them to act.
Adam Sender, the young, retired hedge fund manager, bought art both ways. Sender had help from Todd Levin, a full-time curator, and thanks to Levin’s help Sender developed an important collection of contemporary art. Sender’s collection was so important that part of the collection was sold for $20 million in 2006, and another part was sold for $70 million in 2014. Obviously Adam had the funds to buy what Levin told him to buy. But Levin didn’t always push Sender to buy big names. Todd gave Sender the names of new artists that were worth collecting. It was a winning combination. Sender collected more than 400 contemporary art pieces, and now he does nothing, but pay attention to the art he didn’t sell.
There is no perfect formula to use when collecting contemporary art. At times, your gut feeling is worth more than a gallery curator’s opinion when collecting. Collecting big name artists can be expensive, but collecting the odd works that only you might love now could be the ticket to retiring to Florida, but then again it might not be that kind of ticket. It could just be the exciting tick you get from being odd.