Art Collecting (Guide to a High Value Collection in Art Market 2021)

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email


This guide is for everyone who wants to buy, sell and collect art in 2021. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced collector, the art market is changing. There is a lot you should know in art + technology. Get the info in this guide.
Art Market 2021: Guide to Collecting

Jump to Segments

Understand Collecting in 2021 With New Insight Into the Modern Art Market

There are a few reasons why putting money and effort into your private art collection might be the right choice, especially now.

And as you’ll see, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from starting your collection now, even if you start small.

The past 100 years of machine creation and innovation up to now have brought us to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Because of it we can enjoy a working level of transparency, sourcing, sharing, and buying that’s completely different than even a decade ago.

And there are no longer gaps in physical space (at least virtually) with the invention of the internet.

That leads me to the art world.

Art Collecting in 2021 - Abstract Painting Steve Johnson
Abstract Painting Steve Johnson

Even if you can’t attend art fairs or galleries, you are now able to bring up on your computer at any time a whole smorgasbord of works from all corners of the world.

And there seems to be a silver-screen-sized spotlight on the arts.


Art Market 2021 Guide to Collecting (Arts Row Article Image 1)
Gambler – Bearded Man Portrait and Lamp  – by Руслан Гамзалиев



Art Market 2021 Guide to Collecting (Arts Row Article Image 2)
“Untitled,” 2019, by Reza Shafahi, acrylic on paper – James Barron Art booth at the Outsider Art Fair – 2020. Credit James Barron Art


Clearly, the ability to easily access millions of works, connect with artists, and source galleries, fairs, and auctions is right inside our handheld device.



Global Changes

My recent interview with CEO and founder of, Gottfried Eisenberger (for Art Market Magazine) is a telling sign of things to come.

Art Market 2021 Guide to Collecting (Arts Row Article Image 3)
Gottfried Eisenberg – CEO, Founder of (photo credit Daniela Jakob) Copyrighted to © Art Market Magazine, December 2020, Issue #54. All rights reserved.

Read the interview in Art Market Magazine Issue #54. is “the first digital companion to art events.” is an app that allows people to have hands-free experiences at auction houses, galleries, exhibits and art fairs.

Art Market 2021 Guide to Collecting (Arts Row Article Image 4) App – Baker House Gallery

Visitors simply scan information about artists, artworks or exhibits using the app.

They can then read, categorize, save and share the information they like right on their phones. No more having to collect and keep track of a bag full of pamphlets, flyers, business cards and so on. is just one more telling sign that we’re beginning to see how technology and art can intersect.

Art Market 2021 Guide to Collecting (Arts Row Article Image 5) App – Tom Lohner Artwork

From high end to lower end, it’s clear that art market segments have changed and will continue to change just as the world changes.

That means our ability to source works we’d like to collect is at our fingertips.

Even traditional institutions, like Christie’s and Sotheby’s, have now employed technology.

They’re adapting and embracing technology to accommodate their growing collector base, one that’s proven to be comfortable with acquiring art on the go and via devices.

This includes Christie’s use of for private collection management and Sotheby’s acquisition of Mei Moses (SMM) as an analytical tool to assess and understand the market better.

These changes have very much buoyed confidence from all classes of people in some of the most traditional and older art institutions.

In fact, what we’re really seeing is that investing in art as an asset class or private collection continues to grow across the globe and across classes.

And it’s growing in spite of political and economic climates around the world. Even though these factors have tended to tighten wallets in the past.

It’s pretty hard to ignore too.

The dollar signs that are wafting up from the art market are a magnet to the curious and savvy.

They definitely warrant more than a little bit of merit.

Proof is in the numbers….  the art market has grown unabashed, up 212% in a decade.

In 2019, global art sales eased 5% year-on-year to an estimated $64.1 billion – while the volume of transactions hit a decade-high of 40.5 million, according to the latest edition of the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report. Authored by renowned cultural economist Dr Clare McAndrew – with an additional survey of 1,300 high-net-worth collectors by UBS Investor Watch and Arts Economics providing fresh insight into buyer behavior.

Further insights include active spending by millennial and female collectors, and an increase in the number of online purchases... – 7 Insights from the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2020 (

All segments of the buying market are getting in on collecting.

And many are benefiting as the burbling art arena boils higher.

Even as the market has at times decelerated, TEFAF’s yearly report shows global growth now reaching beyond $67 billion, up 3 billion in one year’s time.

And if that’s not impressive, then let’s look at projected growth for ONLY the online global art market value (which will more than double in less than a decade):

the estimated value of the online art market worldwide from 2013 to 2024…. global online art sales amounted to approximately 4.82 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, up by four percent over the previous year. Online art sales are forecast to increase to a total of 9.32 billion U.S. dollarsby 2024. – Published by Statista Research Department, Nov 26, 2020

Here are the 7 moves I'm recommending:

Modern Collecting

An interesting change has happened.

Collectors are increasingly willing to share their compilations in public spaces.

Private collections have been displayed publicly for decades, but in this past decade the practice has rocketed upward becoming a common practice for established and new art market sectors.



Art Market 2021 Guide to Collecting (Arts Row Article Image 6)
Colored print of costume for original (1912) production of Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos – Photo credit Boston Public Library


Single owner collections with an intriguing pedigree or captivating storyline are frequently gaining MEGA attention.

Owners are experiencing celebrity-like status as tastemakers and curators.

They show up on social media and in the press with their highly anticipated unveilings – some moving collections to their own private museums and showrooms.

Overall, these changes are creating a celebratory and philanthropic buzz.


7 Moves to Better Collecting

Sitting in the bright light of a revolutionizing art market, there are several trends I think you can benefit from here.

These have recently started to emerge for collectors and I believe they’ll continue going forward in 2021 and beyond.



1. Diversity –

Diversifying is one way to raise the value of even small collections.

If you collect a variety of pieces whether they’re cohesive or contrasting to one another, you can increase value.

Currently, Impressionism, Post-War and Contemporary art are the strongest in the market.

Chinese and Scottish fine arts and decorative arts are also highly sought after.

But it’s only best to collect those pieces if they speak to your story, reflect your taste, or they reflect the historical preference and style of your collection.

Overall, diversity should be taken seriously and used wisely when curating. Careless diversity could lower valuation.

2. Risk –

Typical ROI for art fluctuates from 1% to 19% as reported in WSJ by art expert, Michael Plummer of ArtVest Partners, LLC.

So, I advise you to view monetary reward as only half of the return.

Collecting is a long-term commitment with gains growing bigger toward the end the same way other asset classes gain, such as stocks.

Consider social awareness capital and personal satisfaction as the other forms of gain.

Since monetary valuation is only realized upon liquidation, it’s key to know that you’ll need to revere emotional, social and aesthetic currency as unique and valuable forms of return.

andrii leonov P5nZwlbTngI unsplash

Albert Einstein – photo by Andrii Leonov

Net risk is then reduced according to how the risk is perceived.

3. First Claims –

Beginning in 1964, Don and Mera Rubell’s weekly purchases from unknown artists culminated years later into a highly-coveted compilation.

For one thing, the Rubells have hardly ever sold a piece, so have never cashed in on their investment. For another, the studio-trawling was at first a financial necessity, the Rubells’ way of starting a collection when they had little money to spare. It was only later that their method evolved into a kind of philosophy of acquisition. – Christie’s, Collection Story of Don and Mera Rubell

With aging, private collections becoming hefty exchequers of keen aesthetes, you can see how claiming firsts can become a great long-term investment.

By that I mean, seeing potential value early in an artist and their work and investing when prices are low, can bring big rewards in later years if your collection remains intact and cared for.

Don and Mera have established a unique collection practice.

They stay with an artist, committing to them for the length of their career. This has allowed them to watch the artist life cycle many times over.

‘When we buy an artist, we try to stay with them until they come to fruition,’ says Don. ‘We will go as far as we can go with an artist, and then one step further. We have been very lucky in choosing artists who have become representatives of their generation. Some artists do their best work late in their career, which is very rare; some do their best work early. But most artists peak somewhere around their fifth or sixth exhibition.’ – Don Rubell, Christie’s Collection Story

Don and Mera are experts on this life cycle and may possibly be the reason we’ve seen a trend toward their style of collecting and curation which I like to call “life cycle collecting”.

4. Unique Truth –

Today, collections are answering unique, modern truths about art.

As the steward of your collection, you are the sole curator of that truth which is a historical and aesthetic component that you explore through your collection.

That truth helps create its value.

Let me explain what I mean more clearly.

The sum of your individual pieces remains less than the total matured value of your collection.

As you create your collection using your own lens, you begin to curate a group of works that shows others how to see the world of art through that same lens.

In this way, you are giving perspective in a new form that can only be given by bringing your specific pieces together as one story.

It becomes a story of how art has enhanced your own life and how you see it enhancing the world.

Overall, your collection becomes a new language without words. It’s a language that you speak about the world and that others can interpret without needing lessons, but rather by looking upon it as a whole and then looking within.

5. Education –

Not all collectors are astute connoisseurs. I am the first to admit, I need more education in some areas of the arts before adding them to a collection.

Some begin on little knowledge.

It can still work well for the collector. Especially when the goal is less monetary and more personal.

However, that being said, due diligence and acumen are priceless when building for value and avoiding fakes or forgeries.

Today’s serious collectors cultivate both of these skills.

Without them, you are at risk of spending more than you should and gaining less on the backend when gains should be highest.

6. Personal Representation –

Collections are a window into an individual’s artistic acuity.

This is a deviation from investments that don’t afford the investor any creative license.

Most asset forms are not artistic in nature.

jamie street VP4WmibxvcY unsplash

They are definable resources that do not change aesthetically as you add to them.

These types of assets solely aim at growing profits.

As you might have guessed, that’s why I advocate for art as an asset.

Being the CEO and founder of Arts Row, my aim is to help artists grow their recognition as well as their income.

I am dedicated to not only promoting art as an asset, but raising awareness of the value that art has an asset.

Art collections are a hybrid of carefully cultivated oeuvre and personal taste and the best collections highlight as much.

(In case you’re interested, I’ve added examples of the kinds of art I aspire to collect at the end of this article.)

7. Do What Works –

As we’ve talked about, art collections today range from hobby-like to asset classes.

Whether you use an advisor, tech tools, a historian, your own intuition or a mix of methods, doing what works and the ROI will reflect your collection design.

It’s good to note that collecting doesn’t have to take place in stark places with stuffy people.

Many collectors, advisors and artists are open and warm and welcome the chance to help both new and seasoned collectors.  

Art Market 2021: Guide to Collecting (10)

I hope this opens your mind and also some doors you thought were closed to you.

Invest in art, not only because it can bring monetary reward, but because it supports living artists and leaves a language that speaks of the world you knew when you are no longer here on the planet.

If you liked this guide or want more information turning your talent into profit, sign up for the Scale Your Skill newsletter below.

Paula Soito is an arts industry writer and official judge for Art Market Magazine’s Top Emerging Artists – The Gold List.

She is CEO and founder of and highly dedicated to highlighting the works of artists and growing their talent into larger profits.

Article Sources:

Art: A Growing Asset Class ( – Art: A Growing Asset Class)

Art Investment Funds: The Basics ( – Art Investment Funds Intro)

Inside the Private Museums of Billionaire Art Collectors by Michael Shnayerson (

Marta Gnyp, an art adviser and author of The Shift: Art and the Rise to Power of Contemporary Collectors – Town & Country

Specialists Speak: Trends and Predictions in Collecting ( – Specialists Speak)

Private Collectors Get Into the Museum Business ( – Private Collectors Get Into The Museum Business)


Paula M. Soito
Paula M. Soito

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Paula Soito Arts Row Founder/CEO

She is the founder and CEO of Arts Row, Inc. and and an international arts industry writer for Art Market Magazine distributed to Barnes & Noble and universities worldwide.

Paula was recognized as a “top 100 entrepreneur” for and awarded the partner Impact Award by Tony Robbins, Dean Graziosi and Russell Brunson. 


Connect with Paula


Jump to Section