E-commerce and online transaction have certain risks that are inherent to the domain. Theft of digital identity and blocking and hacking of accounts are the cost we risk incurring in exchange for convenience.
The online presence of the art market has grown substantially in the past decade, as there has been a general increase in the number of young collectors who are of the digital age. With online art sales on the rise, it is important for collectors to know the risks they face while dealing online in an art context.
Due diligence is of utmost importance while buying art, and the digital space is no exception to the rule. Following are a few significant areas of interest :
- Authenticity : With other conditions remaining the same, authenticity is the single most important factor that dictates both price and value of an artwork. A collector of art must always insist on a certificate of authenticity from the seller (be it the artist herself, or an intermediary).
- Provenance : Provenance refers to the history of the artwork. This includes information on the year that the work was created and which collections and exhibitions it has been in ever since. Not only provenance factor in the value of an artwork, but researching provenance may notify the buyer of any ‘red flags’. For example, if the work was stolen from its previous owner, the current seller may not have clear title and therefore cannot legally sell the work.
- Condition Report : A collector buying online often doesn’t have the chance to see an artwork in person before purchase. Condition reports are therefore vital in providing information of any damage the work may have suffered and any loss of value thereafter.
- Guarantee : A written guarantee with reasonable terms and conditions can indemnify both buyer and seller from any issues arising after the transaction is complete.
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