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How to buy your first piece of art In Nigeria

Nigeria has a vibrant art culture with exotic bronze collections from Benin City and northern Nigeria dating as far as the 4th century on display at globally renowned galleries. As the festive season draws near, collectors across the world are making the trip to these parts of Africa where flourishing historic cultures will be on display.

Although the world of art can be intimidating, especially if it’s a green field for a prospective buyer, there are key tricks to the trade a budding connoisseur can learn to raise one’s confidence level before making the first purchase.

"Head with Crown" Wunmonije Compound, Ife 14th-early 15th century copper alloy Photo: Karin L. Willis Credit: Fundacion Marcelino Botín/Museum for African Art; © National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria.

  1. Do your research

Every piece of art you find is either a great investment or a sink-hole. Taking time out to study the textures, colours and medium can hone your intuition at discerning quality items from adulterated objects, saving you a ton of money in the process.

Visit galleries and museums often and discuss with other collectors and artists to help you make a sound decision before buying.

  1. Set a budget but be flexible

For most art lovers, the things which they regret the most are the works they thought were timeless but did not buy even when they had the chance.

As with real estate, the value of a solid piece only goes one way…up! So before you head out to that auction, determine how much you are willing to spend, factor in all the hidden costs such as shipping, framing, insurance, add a little extra in your wallet, just in case something else catches your fancy and bargain.

  1. Ask for a discount

There is no harm in asking, “Is that your best price?”

In the world of art, the price listed on display is usually not the actual price on offer for the work. Armed with this knowledge, you can ask for a discount when purchasing from a gallery that is keen on growing relationships with a new clients.

  1. Buy what you love

Before you walk to an auction, glean through the catalogue and pick out pieces that you love. Do some investigation on the selection items and trust your heart when you come to a conclusion. Remember that it’s necessary to physically see the items you are considering before making a down payment as things generally look better in pictures than real life.

  1. Keep everything

Proper documentation and invoicing can save you from a ton of stress when an investment goes awry. Try not to throw anything away. Receipts, pictures and all other paperwork are things used to authenticate and value a piece if you decide to resell in future.

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