Buying Art on Vacation Part 2: Avoiding Pitfalls

Buying Art on Vacation Part 2: Avoiding Pitfalls


Buying art while on vacation is a great idea, as covered in my previous post. Keeping a few important things in mind when buying your vacation art can significantly decrease the chances of experiencing “buyer’s remorse” once you’re home and your tan starts to fade.

Before you even leave home, consider whether you will be buying souvenirs or investment-grade fine art. Being on vacation often results in impulse-buying behavior, and expensive art should never be bought on a lark. Investing in art requires a significant amount of research, so unless you’re willing to spend at least as much time researching your intended purchase as you do on planning your vacation, we recommend staying away from high-dollar art purchases while away from home. If you do decide to invest in art while on vacation, ensure that the gallery is a reputable one. An honest art dealer will not offer an appraisal of your intended purchase. It’s an inherent conflict of interest when the person selling you the art also appraises it.

A sure warning sign about the legitimacy of an art transaction is the deep discount. While reputable art dealers and galleries may have some negotiating room if previously agreed upon with the artist, that is the exception. Deep discounts on art, especially in tourist settings, either indicate a potential scam or an inexperienced gallery, as no legitimate gallery is interested in devaluing the work of its artists.

We recommend staying away from tourist shops. Seek out local galleries, studios, or small shops that specialize in “fine craft” instead. You’ll have a better chance of bringing home an authentic piece of local craftsmanship and not a mass-produced plastic bauble.

Some countries, including the U.S., have cultural property rules that govern the import and export of art. In general, you do not have to worry about running afoul of the law if your purchase is original fine art created entirely by hand (this includes paintings and drawings), or is an antique at least 100 years old. These can all be brought into the U.S. duty-free.

So enjoy your vacation and with these helpful pointers you’ll come home with lasting memories and no regrets. At least, none related to art...

Vistors to Evansville would do well to purchase art by these local artists