Five Tips to Survive Art Fairs like Frieze New York

Cornell DeWitt on Art FairsThe art world veteran shares winning tips for collectors and their advisors, just in time for Frieze in New York.


Fairs can feel daunting, but art world veteran Cornell DeWitt reveals timely winning techniques for making the most of the big week, explaining how your Collectrium account can be a secret weapon. From strategically preparing for the event to arranging details after a sale, the innovative and private tool can be a trusted aid, easing event stresses and freeing you to better enjoy the fair experience.

How can a collector prepare for a fair using a digital collection management platform like Collectrium?

Aside from comfortable shoes and hydration, the most important element to surviving fair week here in New York (and the same goes for Miami, Basel or whichever of the big events you may be attending) is to be organized. Understand what you already have, know where to find what you want and set your budget. Collectrium helps you with these crucial planning aspects, letting you track works you are interested in and works that have been offered to you. Then, once you’ve acquired your new piece, Collectrium becomes the hub for everything you need to take care of that work appropriately. Perhaps most importantly, use Collectrium to understand the value of your collection, so you can set yourself an appropriate budget.

What should collectors be thinking about in order to navigate the fair most efficiently?

Prioritize! What are you looking for? Which galleries have you liked previously? Don’t get distracted by the champagne carts, and everyone else’s shoes. Try to get information in advance on the items that galleries are intending to show. Reach out to them they will usually be happy to at least give you an overview of what they are bringing, even if they don’t want to spoil the surprise by naming specific works. Then, once you are at the fair, be open to the unexpected. You never know what new artist or gallery you may discover and fall in love.

Collectrium allows the collector to visualize a piece in position at home. Do you think this feature is going to be useful for art advisors and collectors?

This is definitely one of Collectrium’s most fun features. Once you have an image of the work on your phone or tablet, you can virtually see it in place on a wall in your home. If you have a photo of the intended location loaded onto your phone or tablet, you can even envision how a work would look in this space while you’re at the fair.

For someone who is going to acquire works at the fair, what are the things he or she should be aware of?

First, you should love the piece you are buying! Beyond that, there are a lot of questions to answer before coming to a decision. Where am I going to put this work – at home, a vacation home or in storage? Will my current insurance be sufficient to cover it? How will I move this work from the fair to where I will be keeping it? But foremost, am I paying a fair price? What do similar works sell for? Collectrium now offers a proprietary database of global auction sales results that allows you to research comparable prices via the app, directly at the fair – very useful for both collectors and advisors.

What are your recommendations to collectors after the fair is over for managing their new acquisitions?

These days, art collections are not just a passion, they are also an asset that has to be carefully managed. There are so many different things to keep track of – physical location; shipping and storage needs; conservation and insurance; appraisals and staying on top of the value of a collection by comparing it against auction records, as well as managing all the relationships associated with a work and its history (when and where it was purchased, its provenance, exhibition record, references, etc.). All of this can seem overwhelming. Collectrium makes collection management easy and even enjoyable, and all with bank-level security. For the first time, all tasks around a collection are seamlessly accessible on one secure and intuitive platform.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Cornell and members of the Collectrium team at Frieze Art Fair this week!

Cornell DeWitt has over 20 years of international art market experience, most recently from Artnet and as an art business consultant, focusing on leveraging data and technology to better serve the art world.


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