Los Angeles’s best kept secret for buying Art… Auction houses! I know this goes against everything I should be about, which is selling my own art, but hey – I can’t be all things to all people. With the amount of affordable art that’s available, there’s no excuse for having crappy Made in China ‘art’ hanging on your walls, even if you’re only renting an apartment (which is most of us here in LA). For as little as $100, you can end up buying a beautiful lithograph or oil painting already framed. Most art needs a frame, and if it’s included in your purchase price, you’re ahead of the game. I know it’s possible, because I’ve done it more than once.
I’m sharing one of my favorite auction houses with you, truly one of LA’s best kept secrets. A client of mine who’s a top notch art appraiser here in town told me about this place over a decade ago. His famous line, ‘you can often buy art there for .10 cents on the dollar‘ which is so true. A few years ago I bought a painting there with a retail value of $18,000 for about $2,000. I did my research ahead of time to see if what I saw hanging on the wall was as great as I thought it was, then set up a phone bidding appointment with the auction house because I was going to be out of town during the actual auction. They called me 2 lots ahead of time, I waited for my lot number to come up… and placed the opening bid. Fortunately for me, no one bid against me. I screamed with joy and jumped up and down because the painting was now mine!
If you’ve never been to an art auction, then let me share with you the process. This particular auction house works as follows: There will be an estimated value, lets say it’s $500-$1000. The bidding will start at half of the estimate, in this case it would be $250. It will go up in small increments, determined by the house. You might be bidding with others in the room, on the phone, or online. If no one bids against you, then the piece is yours, provided the reserve that the seller might have pre-set, has been met. Once the hammer is dropped, the winning bid will have a 20% buyers premium added, plus applicable sales tax. Therefore, when you’re bidding in the heat of the moment, keep that in mind. The best way to keep yourself from loosing control is to set a mental limit on the piece you’re intending to bid on, knowing that it will be roughly 25% higher if you have the winning bid. This will come in handy if you’re bidding on multiple pieces.
And what’s the name of this auction house…. you’ll have to email me to find out. Kidding! Clark Cierlak Fine Arts Estate Auction Service. All of the images I’ve loaded above, which are some of my favorites for this event, are from the up coming auction on Saturday July 26th at noon. A word to the wise, if you’re serious about buying art this way, then go to the preview or the actual auction. Never buy it sight unseen, digital photos can be deceptive and pick up more detail than your eye might see in person. By the way, if you do make it to this auction, tell Ellen Romi sent you!
Peter Max, Lot 161, With Out Borders, 1991, color lithograph, signed in white pencil, from the numbered edition 300, image 40 x 32″, full margins, artist’s blindstamp lower left, framed. $500/1000
Alfred Defossez, Lot 59, Various, five color lithographs (only one shown here) each signed in pencil, from the numbered edition 200, 150 and an artist’s proof, sheets from 22 x 17 1/2 to 15 x 18″, Together with two color exhibition posters, for a total of 7 items. $300/500
Fernand Leger, Lot 141, Untitled Figures on Yellow Background, color lithograph, signed in ink (faded), image 16 1/4 x 13″, full margins, framed. $1000/2000
Alexander Chistov, Lot 42 A, Still Lifes, two oil paintings on panel (only one shown here) one signed lower right, one initialed upper right, both 8 x 10″, both framed. $500/800
Sam Francis, Lot 86, Untitled, (SFS.132: S.3) color screenprint, signed in pencil, from the numbered edition 100, sheet 30 x 22 1/4, published and printed by Gemini G.E.L, with their blindstamp lower right. $2000/3000
Pablo Picasso, Lot 182, Jeune Homme Au Masque Taureau, faune Et Profile De Femme (B.279), 1936, etching, stamp signed, from the numbered edition 50, published in 1961, plate 8 1/2 x 12″. $3000/4000
Norman Lundin, Lot 146, Study of Jar, 1989, gouache and water-soluable crayon on paper, signed lower right, 9 x 15 1/2″, framed. $300/600