How to Talk Price with a Gallery

Artsy Specialist
Sep 26, 2017 2:35PM

So you find the work you want on Artsy, and you are ready to make a purchase. You might be wondering, “What does this artwork actually cost?” “Do I need to pay the listed price, or is there room for negotiation?” “What if I can’t pay for this work all at once?”

Through Artsy, you can buy art from nearly 2,000 galleries, and message them about price without the stress of an in-person visit. When you do so, remember that it’s okay to negotiate a discount, ask about added costs, or discuss a payment plan. Here’s what Artsy Specialists recommend.

First, Find out the Price

According to their in-house policies, some galleries only share pricing information upon request and do not publicly list prices on Artsy. If you are interested in one of these works, contact the gallery through Artsy and ask for a quote.

Pro tip: Make sure your Collector Profile on Artsy is up to date before contacting the gallery, as galleries will often prioritize responding to messages that have this contextual information. If you haven’t yet, take 30 seconds to update your Collector Profile here.

Ask About Additional Costs

The full price of an artwork will go beyond the quoted price, as shipping, framing, installation, taxes, and insurance are all additional expenses. Before you start negotiating, you can ask whether the gallery would be willing to cover any of these added costs. At the very least, you will want to get an estimate for what these additional expenses might be.

Pro tip: Galleries often charge a premium to coordinate framing. If you’re willing to deal with the details, you may be able to work with a framer directly and get a better price. The gallery’s preferred framer may even offer a discount if you mention the gallery’s name. If you decide to coordinate framing yourself, be sure to ask the gallery if there are framing specifications for the work, as the artist may have suggested a type or style of frame for that specific piece.

Then, Start Negotiating

The best time to initiate a price negotiation is after you have expressed to the gallery that you are really interested in the work and would like to purchase it. Consider approaching the subject by asking: “Is there a collector discount?” or “Is the price negotiable?” Galleries expect buyers to push back on price, so do not hesitate to ask. The standard discount is between 5% and 15%, depending on the overall price of the work and the gallery policy.

Galleries will be more willing to give you a discount if it seems like it would speed along your purchasing decision. However, galleries rarely offer discounts on artworks under $1,000, and some do not offer discounts to new clients.

Pro tip: If you are buying an artwork by a historic artist, you can look at the artist’s past auction results to find comparable prices. You may want to ask the gallery why auction prices for similar artworks are different from what is being offered, and use this as an opportunity to learn more about the nuances of the artist’s market.

On Artsy, you can browse a selection of auction results for hundreds of artists—for example, you can explore Robert Rauschenberg’s auction results on his profile page here.

Or Consider a Payment Plan

Many galleries can accommodate a payment plan, enabling you to pay for the piece in several installments. You can simply say: “Is there any way I can pay in installments?” or “Do you have any payment plans available?” Note that in most cases you can only take possession of the work once it is paid in full.

Pro tip: Most galleries will not give you a discount and agree to a payment plan—you will probably have to choose one or the other.

After the sale, you can ask the gallery to let you know if other works by the artist become available or if they have an exciting upcoming show in your area. Galleries are more likely to give exclusive access and discounts to their most loyal clients.

If you have any questions about buying art from galleries on Artsy, contact our team of specialists at [email protected].

Artsy Specialist