Buying art on installments

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Prices of art are often such that one would require having fairly deep pockets to be able to afford a good, or rather a work by an established artist. A long time ago when people bought art for simpler reasons that stemmed from a passion for art and from a desire to help out artists whom they knew personally, it was common to have informal arrangements with regards to paying the artist or gallery. This could often involve payment in installments over a certain period of time. This not only helped the buyer in acquiring works, which they felt strongly about but also the artist in ensuring that his works kept on moving.

Although, the economics of art has changed form completely from those days, even today there are galleries who are willing to let you own a work of art, even if you cannot make an outright payment. This trend opens up possibilities for the buyer to be able to make the payment in smaller denominations and not feel the pinch to that extent. Today, general financial conditions have improved substantially, yet there is a certain reluctance to invest heavily in art. In such a situation, the option of paying in installments not only helps the buyer but also in ensuring that sales take place.

Incidentally, the younger generation, which is quite used to the concept of owning things first and paying later, is bound to find the scheme attractive. Normally, one does not associate art with such an ‘installment’ concept, but in fact, it has its plus points. A lump sum payment can be a little scary for the first time buyer who may feel more confident in paying in smaller portions over the next few months. Such transactions are usually reserved for trusted clients or when the gallery feels that the buyer is genuinely interested in acquiring the work. Still, these dealings are rarely publicized and usually take place on an informal level.

Published in Financial Times