Something I came across online; Sylvia Porter, one of the most successful financial columnists and writers in the US in the 20th century, once listed ten sound rules as a guide in art collecting (in Sylvia Porter’s New Money Book, 1979). More than 30 years later, they are still very relevant.
1. Study the field which interests you as much as possible.
2. Buy cautiously at first.
3. Make sure that your work of art has quality.
4. Deal with a top gallery or art dealer. Some dealers and major galleries will guarantee the authenticity of the art works they sell, so check this point as well.
5. Have an understanding with your dealer or gallery about trading up – so he’ll repurchase or resell your works as you have more money to invest in high quality art.
6. Do not buy art works just because they are a current rage.
7. Ask the advice of museum directors or curators whenever possible.
8. Decide upon your investing limit before you buy. If you fall in love with a more expensive object try to arrange for a time payment.
9. Spread your financial risks by buying a variety of art unless you are expert in a particular field.
10. Buy the best examples you can afford in any category.
Royal-Athena Galleries (where I found this list) added two other important rules:
11. Ask for the provenance of any potential acquisitions.
12. Do not buy objects that have been significantly restored.