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My wife and I have just decided to start collecting artworks (small Oils and watercolour paintings only, no prints) by Greek and Indian artists, purely out of interest for the two cultures.

1. How best can we start up an art collection on an average budget? Buy at auction, from the gallery, directly from artist or private sales?
2. If we decide several years down the road to put our collection up for sale or pass on to our kids, what sort of US tax would we/they be liable for?

Thank you for your time.

Dear David,

Thank you for writing to the Art Appraisal Firm. The best way to collect art is to buy what you love within your means.  In general, you are on the right track collecting original works.  Reputable auction houses are a good way to go, but steer clear of auctions that do not have a normal place of business, such as auctions held in hotels, or claim to be liquidating government seized property.  Many of these are not on the up and up.  

Buying from galleries with a good local reputation or directly from the artist is also a good way to collect.  However, you want to be careful at private sales, unless you are happy to pay a specific price for a work for the sheer enjoyment of looking at it.

I am sorry I cannot answer your tax question.  This is outside of my area of expertise.  You may want to consult with your tax preparer.

Good luck and happy collecting!

Cindy Charleston Rosenberg, ISA CAPP

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Cindy Charleston-Rosenberg


Our firm provides professional written Art Appraisal Services for formal functions such as donation, estate tax estimation, or insurance. Within the parameters of this site we are happy to answer general questions about art. Examples of such questions would be: "What does the "e.a." on my print mean?", "What does a fraction on the bottom of the image stand for (example 10/200)", or "How do I know if a certificate of authenticy is reliable". However, we regret that we are not able to provide the value of specific works without engagement. Clients who would like to engage us to advise them about the value of specific works of art are invited to visit our website at The "fees" link provides specific directions for how to obtain an informal evaluation, or a formal written report, depending on your specific needs. We are an independent art appraisal company and therefore we also cannot help clients who are looking for a dealer or broker to sell their artwork.


President and Founder: Art Appraisal Firm, LLC Founding Partner and Fine Art Consultant: The Appraisal Firm of Pennsylvania Art Appraisal Consultant to: Museums, Attorneys, Financial Planners, Trust Companies, Historical Societies, Prominent Auction Houses, and Galleries. Contributing Feature Writer for Art Matters magazine, covering fine art, auctions, and antiques. Featured Guest Speaker: Building a Fine Art Collection, Ten Elements in the Appraisal of Fine Art. Proprietor: The Charleston Galleries located in Chestnut Hill, Malvern and Wayne, Pennsylvania; and Lambertville, New Jersey. Specializing in estate paintings and sculpture, 1991-2001

Certified Member in good standing: International Society of Appraisers (ISA). Business Partner Sponsor: Philadelphia Museum of Art; Woodmere Art Museum. General Memberships: The James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown and New Hope; The Philadelphia Sketch Club; The Chestnut Hill and Cheltenham Historical Societies; Glenside Chamber of Commerce. Volunteer Activities: Group Facilitator, Safe Harbor Children’s Bereavement Program, Interfaith Houses for Humanity Project.

Art Matters Magazine

B.A., Human Services, Antioch College, 1979 Graduate Studio Courses: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1989-1991 Graduate Studio Courses: University of the Arts, 1989-91 Continuing Education: Appraisal Theory Changes and IRS Standards Changes: ISA, 2007 New IRS Tax Laws: ISA, 2007 Connoisseurship Seminar: ISA, 2007 Art History in Context: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2006 Philadelphia Library Symposium, Art and Religion, 2005 Art History Courses: The Impressionists of New Hope: The James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA. 2005 Masterpieces in Context: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2004 American Indian Painting, ISA, 2001 Art Conservation Panel, ISA, 2001 Appraisal of Prints, ISA, 2001

Awards and Honors
Completion of the experience, continuing education, peer review, report writing, and qualifying examination requirements for the ISA Certification to Appraise Fine Art (CAPP) designation under the auspices of the University of Maryland. The CAPP (Certified Member) distinction is the highest level of recognition ISA can bestow. Certified ISA members must recertify every five years by demonstrating continued professional development in their specialty areas and must pass a recertification exam. Successful completion of coursework and required examination in the ISA Appraiser as Expert Witness Course.

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