What kind of paintings are usually sold?


One of the most common ways of selling art is that Commission business. Basically, a commission is understood to mean the execution of a sales transaction by an intermediary, while the actual seller remains in the background. So also in the field of art; the dealer (commission agent or commission taker) takes the work of a collector or artist (commissioner or commission giver) and tries to find a suitable buyer. This is done either in a very targeted manner, in that the dealer presents the work of art to a handpicked selection of potential buyers (private sale) or, for example, presents it to a larger audience at trade fairs and as part of their own exhibitions.

Similar to the art auction, the seller also uses the services of an intermediary here and benefits from his experience and contacts. An important difference between commission and auction, however, is that the commission-wise sale is usually much more discreet than the public marketing within the framework of the auction. In addition, the commission is not tied to a fixed date and ideally the work of art to be sold can also be conveyed within a short period of time. Since the dealer himself does not have to invest any capital to purchase the work of art, his economic risk is reduced in the case of commission, which means that he can offer the seller a better commission price.

Two types of commissions

In practice there are two types of commission. At Erste, the commissioner and commissioner agree on a specific sales price for the respective work of art as well as a proportionate commission. The amount of the commission is mostly based on the sales price and is usually between 10% and 50% same. However, there is also the possibility of agreeing a specific commission price. The dealer guarantees the seller a certain amount, which is paid out in the event of a sale. In this scenario, the commission corresponds to that part of the sales proceeds that exceeds the agreed commission price.

Example 1: On the occasion of an exhibition, an artist gives the gallery several works on commission. Both parties jointly agree on a specific commission price per work of € 20,000 and a commission of 40%. As part of the exhibition, the gallery sells three works, which corresponds to a total turnover of € 60,000. Based on the provisions of the commission contract, the artist receives € 36,000 (60%) of sales and the gallery owner a commission of € 24,000 (40%).

Example 2: A private collector commissions an art dealer to sell a painting and gives it to the dealer on commission for this purpose. Both agree a commission price of € 25,000. The dealer decides to offer the work to interested parties for € 35,000 including taxes. In the event of a sale, the seller will in any case receive the € 25,000 promised in the contract. The art dealer's profit results from the difference between the sales price and the commission price minus taxes and other costs such as transport and insurance.

One point that many salespeople underestimate is the selection of a suitable intermediary. In the upper market segment in particular, the target group of potential buyers is very small, but the interest of art brokers is great. However, not all of these providers have the necessary experience and the appropriate network to market top works in the best possible way. It is therefore usually advisable to consult a specialist who has the necessary specialist knowledge and who regularly sells comparable works.