Purchasing Artworks? Discover the 3 main risk factors to take into consideration

    You are about to buy the work of a great artist, but are you sure you have considered all the risk factors?

    Let’s see the main ones

    Before bringing home the work of an important artist such as Modigliani, Balla o Boetti, relevant for its historical-artistic and economic value, it is good to be aware of the main factors to be taken into consideration when purchasing.

    Here are the 3 main risk factors for the evaluation of the artworks:

    • Authenticity to avoid scam
    • Provenance so as not to fall on illicit ground
    • Exportability according to the rules

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    The ways to verify the authenticity of a work of art, be it ancient, modern or contemporary, are different:

    • Works of ancient art: It is essential to arrange an appraisal by a qualified expert.
    • Works of modern art: It is necessary to check if the work is provided with an Archive Authentication by the authorised subjects (archive of the artist, foundation, other legal form), or if the work is included in the General Catalogues or in the so-called “Reasoned” catalogue.
    • Contemporary works of art: It is important for the artist or the gallery that is appointed with the sale, to release, as established by “ art. 64 of the “Code of Cultural Heritage and Landscape”
    • (Legislative Decree no. 42 of January 22, 2004) the Authenticity Certificate, which contains a detailed description of the work.

    In the case of purchase at an auction, the auction house releases a guarantee of authenticity as often established in the general conditions of sale: in the event of ascertained non-authenticity of the work, very rare but still possible, it is mandatory to return to the purchaser the price paid to the seller.

    It is useful to remember that “Illicit trafficking in the art world has a calculated value of 8 billion dollars a year” as explained by Edouard Planche, UNESCO delegate, reporting the estimates of the Transnational Crime and the Developing World Report 2017 of Global Financing Integrity.

    In the purchase of the artwork, always verify, possibly with the help of experts, the legitimate origin, checking the documentation of the various changes in ownership.

    That of  ownership remains one of the factors that most influences the economic value of a work, so much so that it is wise to be wary if you find it difficult to reconstruct the history of the ownership of the artwork you are about to purchase.

    Let’s talk about one (but not the only) of the painful notes for the collector: the management of multiple administrative constraints related to the exportability of the artworks, which unfortunately often slows down the dynamics of purchase.

    The export regulations are governed by The Code of Cultural Heritage and Landscape” (Legislative Decree no. 42 of January 22, 2004).

    The documentation to be used for the practices of free circulation of cultural assets is issued and authorised by the Export Offices of the Superintendence of the territory of competence.

    Their role is to control the circulation of artworks in and out of the Italian national territory and the corresponding documentation can be submitted in paper format or through the  Information System of the Export Office (SUE)..

    Below is the complete list of free circulation practices for cultural assets:

    • Certificate of free circulation
    • Temporary circulation certificate
    • Final Community export license
    • Temporary export license
    • Import certificate or temporary shipment
    • Self-certification for contemporary art


    After reading our article, DO NOT PANIC! Buying works of art of great artists is possible.

    With the necessary precautions and with the help of art market experts, you will bring home your work

    Now are you ready to buy the latest masterpiece?


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