"The Art of Collecting" podcast - Episode #2: The art of building a collection
Laurent Issaurat: Hello and welcome to our "The Art of Collecting" series of podcasts, each episode of which analyzes an issue relating to the ownership and management of works of art or collectibles. In our first episode, we tried to define the operating model of the Art Banking services as defined by Societe Generale Private Banking. Today, this second episode will go straight into the matter as we will focus on the art of building a collection. It is my great pleasure to welcome Viola Raikhel-Bolot, Managing Director and Founder of 1858Ltd. 1858Ltd is an international consulting firm that provides independent expertise and specialized services in the field of art and collectibles. Hello Viola.
Viola Raikhel-Bolot: Hello Laurent.
Laurent Issaurat: Viola, I’d like to start with a very simple question. Could you try to define what a collector is?
Viola Raikhel-Bolot: Thank you Laurent, that is a very good question, and one to which I think we could even start by looking at the English Collins dictionary, which tells us that a collector is “someone who collects things of a particular type as a hobby”. Now as broad as that definition may be, what it means is that anyone with a passion, no matter what their origin, can become a collector. Collecting is a passion both universal and timeless. And that is word unifies or collectors.
Laurent Issaurat: Thank you Viola. That being said, I suppose there are different types of collectors?
Viola Raokhel-Bolot: There are many types of collectors, absolutely and the art world is an extraordinary place that has borne some of the world's most extraordinary collections. What we do find as a great common denominator among all of the collectors is that the greater the passion and the interest the more extraordinary and exceptional the collection becomes. There are countless opportunities to build collections in the art world and we find that some of the most exciting collectors have the most specific taste motivation and passions.
Laurent Issaurat: I see. Now, are there broad guidelines one should follow when it comes to acquiring works in the context of building a collection?
Viola Raikhel-Bolot: Most, definitely. When staring a collection, we find it very important for the collector to ask themselves really what the essence of this collection is, and what is this unifying thread that we want to see continue overtime. Some collectors prefer to focus on a specific medium, perhaps it could be photography of sculpture, others will prefer to focus on a geographic, region or perhaps, again, others may look at an artistic movement it maybe Impressionist painting or women sculptors or contemporary painting. There are some collectors who are so “niche” that they may even look at a very specific brand of watches or cars. Again, it really is about understanding your passion and investigating and studying that area as well as you can. Another piece of advice we give to our collectors is also to ensure that they are verifying the very best example of what it is they wish to collect within their budget, and they are also meeting with as many experts in that specific field as possible, to constantly learn about their specific collecting area.
Laurent Issaurat: Excellent, this is very interesting. When it comes to beginning collectors, people who would acquire works for the first time in their lives, are there any pieces of advice that you could give to these individuals?
Viola Raikhel-Bolot: Absolutely. You know, something that we touch upon quite regularly is understanding the motivations of a seller. And that's why it's always important to find a trusted mentor or advisor in the art market. The art market not being regulated, it is even more important to have the right academic or specialist advisor with you to assist you in making these acquisitions. Again, acquiring artwork is no different from any other purchase you might be making. Just because it is art does not mean that the other disciplines of due diligence do not apply. Common sense is a very good place to start when understanding the art market, but even more so, and a prevailing component of that being understanding the motivation of the seller. Art galleries, auction houses, art advisors are all motivated differently and it's important to understand that motivation and to ensure that you're asking them the right questions. Some of these questions may include: is this seller trustworthy? Has the work been authenticated? What sort of provenance, documentation should I be asking for? Is this provenance information complete, verifiable? What market research has been done around the asking price and is that in line with the current market value?
Laurent Issaurat: Fantastic. Thank you very much, dear Viola, for this very helpful insight. I’m looking forward towards our next conversation around art wealth management and strategic development. Dear listeners, I hope that this exchange with Viola Raikhel-Bolot has interested you, and I hope to see you soon in the next episode! Just a reminder that our series "The Art of Collecting" is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, via our "#PrivateTalk by Societe Generale Private Banking" program.
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