The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai

Collecting International Art: Top Priorities and Concerns

We often think about international art as something distant and inaccessible. Unless there is an international art fair in the city, people don’t even consider ordering art from galleries from other parts of the globe. Partly because it’s impossible to see the piece in person, partly due to a complicated ordering process or fear that the customs and shipping costs will multiply the price of the piece.

Living Room of Maja Hoffman; artworks by Jeff Koons (left) and Damien First (right); via Architectural Digest

Will It Look the Same?

One of the main concerns people have about buying art from abroad is whether it will look the same as it does on the pictures. Hiscox Online Art Trade Report shows that a whopping 75% of buyers are reluctant to purchase art online because they’re worried that the piece will look differently than on the screen. To ensure that what you see is what you get, request additional images from the gallery. You can ask for photographs made from different angles, close-ups or images of artwork in space or on the wall.

Jacqueline Bouvier with her fiance John F. Kennedy, Cape Cod, Massachusetts via The Life Magazine Collection

Shipping Costs

Many people think that the shipping costs will considerably increase the price of the ordered artwork, but nothing can be further from the truth. Shipping costs depend on many factors including the price of art, materials used, custom crating, shipping insurance and the shipping distance. Still, even taking all of these factors into consideration shipping costs usually amount to 3–7% of the artwork’s price. For example, shipping prints can cost just a few dollars while the shipping costs of large sculptures and paintings can cost just a few hundred dollars.

Tax and Customs

Some artworks are exempt from taxes, but to most international art pieces, customs fees and taxes apply. In the U.S., for example, you are looking at a customs duty of 3% of the value of the piece and use tax that’s different from one state to another. If you are delivering art to the EU, you will likely have to pay value-added tax. (For more information read our post dedicated to taxes).

Signed art piece by Banksy

Authenticity Concerns

Buying international art raises authenticity concerns, especially if it’s ordered from small and relatively unknown galleries. That’s why every artwork should come with a certificate of authenticity, an official document that proves that the artwork is genuine. The certificate should include the name of the artist, the title of the artwork, medium, material, date created and the number of copies for multiples.

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