Welcome to the Flip It or Skip It podcast, sponsored by WorthPoint, the world’s largest antiques and collectibles pricing and research database. In this episode, hosts Danna Crawford and Wayne Jordan discuss flipping framed artwork, focusing most of their attention on popular decorative and collectible works.
Danna and Wayne explore the framed artwork market’s ins-and-outs and how to make a profit buying and reselling the right pieces from cruise ship auctions to buying estate items and thrift store shopping.
Cruise Ship Art
Cruise ship art is the first topic of conversation. Avid cruiser Danna explains that although cruises have art auctions on board, she has never participated in one. On the other hand, Wayne was formerly employed as an art auctioneer for a large private art gallery. The gallery had a presence on over fifty cruise ships worldwide.
The position allowed him to learn about how decorative art galleries create and sell inventory. Taking artist Thomas Kincaid as an example, Wayne explains how a gallery might acquire rights to a painting, scan it to a digital file, and make prints of the image. To add value to a group of prints, artists’ assistants will highlight parts of an image with paint (embellish).
Finally, the embellished prints would be approved and signed by the original artist. This is just one of several ways in which galleries can produce and sell artwork—on cruises and otherwise.
In the resale market, framed artwork sells slowly. On eBay, the sell-through rate is only about 18%. Fleshing out more detail on cruise ship auctions’ workings, Wayne explains how customers will bid on an item but not receive it right away. Instead, a successful bidder must return to the gallery to fill out paperwork and finalize the purchase. Galleries can upsell by providing frames, appraisals, shipping insurance, and the like. Once delivered, many who purchase cruise ship art pack away the item rather than hang it.
Those who purchase artwork may receive a certificate of authenticity. Wayne and Danna disagree about the significance of such certificates. As an eBay seller, Danna appreciates certificates of authenticity because they add value and shorten average sale times.
Wayne agrees that it is best to maintain whatever validation one can (including original frames and gallery stickers). However, he notes that certificates of authenticity are as easy to fake as art itself. Using Thomas Kincaid as an example again, he shares that Kincaid’s art is a big seller in the Asian market. This is also the market producing the most Kincaid fakes.
Reselling Framed Artwork
Moving further into the discussion of reselling framed artwork, Wayne and Danna talk about the process of selling these items on eBay. Danna takes a systematic approach to pricing and listing.
Her system includes determining when to start an auction with a high opening bid vs. a Buy-it-Now (Make Offer) price. Wayne expresses concern about auctions that have only one bid. He wants to study the bid closely to determine the authenticity of the piece being sold. Danna isn’t concerned when that happens.
For inexperienced buyers, there are resources available to help determine authenticity. Through an experience dating a painting of Abraham Lincoln, Danna found that local museums sometimes offer evaluation services. Historical societies may also provide appraisals.
Beginners to art flipping can use resources such as Ron Davis’ The Art Dealer’s Field Guide. To help clarify what estate art sells best, visit antique stores and thrift stores and use tools like WorthPoint to make well-informed purchases.
There is a lot of estate art on the market, and there is much money to be made flipping it. Wayne had his beginnings in this line of work and encourages listeners that it truly is an excellent opportunity to build an income.
- 0:24 – Danna and Wayne introduce themselves and the episode.
- 1:15 – Cruise ship art is the first topic to be discussed.
- 2:25 – Wayne uses a Thomas Kincaid painting to explain an example of gallery practices.
- 6:31 – Art on a cruise ship and in general has a low sell-through rate.
- 7:49 – A customer will most likely not take home the exact piece purchased on a cruise.
- 8:40 – Do cruise auction customers receive certificates of authenticity?
- 10:37 – A certificate of authenticity is as easy to fake as art.
- 12:14 – Wayne explains framing and the expense associated with it.
- 14:43 – He wonders how Danna feels if an eBay auction only has one bidder.
- 16:21 – As an appraiser, if Wayne sees only one bid, he wants to look closely at it.
- 17:20 – Danna shares about going to a local museum to authenticate a painting.
- 18:30 – There is a lot of estate art on the market, and it represents a lucrative market.
- 19:27 – If you buy the right kinds of items, they are fairly straightforward to flip.
- 22:04 – Antique shops and thrift stores are great places to find estate art.
- 23:09 – Danna explains a process for beginning art flippers to try.
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