Best Art Gallery

Signed works by major artists fill the Conrad’s new Long-Sharp Gallery, an extension of Rhonda Long-Sharp’s renowned online dealership, Modern Masters. Here, her rules for investing in fine-art prints:

[1] Buy only from reputable galleries, dealers, and auction houses. “Illegitimate pieces purportedly by important artists are everywhere. Stick to vendors with expertise in the type of work you’re seeking—preferably those who have an extensive inventory.

[2] Examine the piece personally, or request a full condition report. “Condition is key to value. Many auction houses don’t examine works ‘out of the frame.’ Collectors must. And that means front and back. If you can’t inspect the piece personally, a complete condition report suffices.”

[3] Know the term “original print.” “The word ‘original’ is the most-abused and least-understood term in the art market. It is not synonymous with ‘one of a kind.’ There may be 50 original prints with the same image pulled from the same etching plate that the artist used to create them.”

[4] Don’t base a fine-art purchase on price alone. “While it’s prudent to look at what prices are available, provenance, rarity, and quality of the image also dictate value. A low price can signal many things—it could be a damaged piece that has been restored, for example.

[5] Hire a framer experienced with blue-chip works on paper. “Archival materials protect prints. I recently examined 10 Warhols that were purchased together but framed separately. Those with low-end stock frames developed problems that devalued them by 60 percent.”


Illustration by Ben Kirchner

This column appeared in the December 2012 issue.