The one that got away

Peter Opheim, Untitled (159), oil on canvas, 75 x 65 inches. Courtesy Steven Zevitas Gallery

For people just starting to buy art, confidence in your gut is the most important thing to cultivate. Here’s why -

Fifteen years ago, someone we know pretty well (ahem) had the opportunity to buy a creation by a young and very talented artist. He recognized the power and originality of the piece; but, being a young collector couldn't bring himself to spend that kind of money (the gallery wanted close to $10,000). The piece appeared to be a relatively simple assemblage of black paper cutouts mounted on white board. The artist became hugely important, with her work selling for at least double and triple the original asking price.

And then there was the case of the student painter, fresh out of art school. Our friend bought a couple of his paintings for a song, and had the chance to buy several more over the next few years. He passed on purchasing more because he was worried about having too much work from the same artist in his small (but growing) collection. Shortly thereafter, the really big collectors "discovered" this artist and drove his prices beyond the reach of mere mortals.

The moral of the story? You'll almost never regret buying a piece of original art that you love - but you'll always remember the one that got away. So trust your instincts and make the plunge. You'll sleep better if you do.