Saturday, June 15, 2019

Should You Donate Art to an Auction?

Where I have my summer studio, paintings of lighthouses are popular auction items.  Here's one that is not going to an auction.  But, you can buy it at a reasonable price!  Here are details.

I've been asked to participate in many local art auctions over the years.  At first, I felt honored to be asked and also glad I could help.  Usually, the groups sponsoring these auctions tout a good cause for which I have an affinity, such as historic preservation or the preservation of wildlands.  But I eventually stopped participating.  Why?  Because they always wanted to put a very low starting bid on the work—one that was much lower than I could sell the art for outside the auction.

And almost always the art sold for much less than retail.

In my mind, this approach cuts two ways.  First, it devalues my work.  Second, the sponsoring group realizes much less.  The group would make more money if it started the bidding at or near the retail price.

Of course, in some places, there is no real art market, and art just doesn't sell for much, auction or not.  In these cases, fine art should not be included in the auction.  Instead, less expensive items should be offered.  On the other hand, in an area where there is a real art market, an auction that sells items for below market isn't doing anyone any favors—especially if the auction is a fundraiser for a worthy cause.

Have you been asked to donate your work to an auction?  Let me know of your experience.

1 comment:

Louise said...

I have also asked and did it a couple times.When I realized I could only deduct the cost of paint and canvas from my taxes,I realized that I was taking a major loss, and one that was not deductable. Thank you IRS. My donating days are over.