Intro to Art Advisories

Art advisories serve as indispensable guides, steering clients toward the growth, management, and preservation of their art collections. At the intersection of discretion and exclusivity, these firms are dedicated to providing bespoke, strategic art-related services tailored to the unique needs and preferences of their clientele.


Today’s landscape has seen a huge surge in demand for advisory services, fuelled by a growing number of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) seeking specialised expertise in navigating the art market. In response to this growing demand, we are seeing a proliferation of independent advisors, as well as major art market players, such as galleries and auction houses, forming dedicated, in-house teams to broaden their commercial horizons.


In some instances, we are seeing these parties (independent advisors and established organisations) join forces through strategic partnerships; whilst established firms look to optimise their existing team’s size, skills and structure.


In terms of roles, you might expect to see the following in an advisory environment:


    1. Art Advisor/Consultant: These professionals serve as the primary point of contact between clients and the advisory firm. They provide expert guidance on art acquisitions, sales, and overall collection strategy, tailored to the client’s preferences and objectives.


    1. Estate Planner/Legal Expert: Specialising in the legal aspects of art transactions, estate planners and legal experts navigate issues such as tax implications, compliance with regulations, estate planning, and inheritance matters related to art assets.


    1. Curator/Art Historian: Curators and art historians offer invaluable insights into art history, provenance research, and curation. They assist clients in understanding the cultural and historical significance of artworks and help authenticate pieces through thorough research.


    1. Financial Analyst: Financial analysts bring their expertise in financial analysis and investment evaluation to assess the value and potential return on investment of art assets. They help clients make informed decisions regarding art acquisitions and portfolio management.


    1. Client Relationship Manager: Client relationship managers focus on building and maintaining strong relationships with clients. They understand the clients’ needs, preferences, and goals, ensuring that the advisory services provided align with their expectations.


    1. Market Researcher: Market researchers keep abreast of market trends, prices, and auction results. They analyse data to provide insights into market dynamics, pricing strategies, and investment opportunities, supporting clients in making informed decisions.


    1. Project Manager: Project managers oversee the execution of various art-related projects, from acquisitions and sales to exhibition planning and collection management. They coordinate efforts across different teams and ensure that projects are completed efficiently and within budget.


    1. Art Handler/Registrar: Art handlers and registrars are responsible for the physical handling, transportation, and documentation of artworks. They ensure that artworks are properly packed, shipped, and installed, adhering to best practices in art handling and conservation.


    1. Marketing and Communications Specialist: Marketing and communications specialists develop strategies to promote the advisory firm’s services, build brand awareness, and engage with clients and stakeholders through various channels, including digital media, events, and publications.


    1. Business Development Manager: Business development managers identify new business opportunities, forge partnerships, and expand the firm’s client base. They play a crucial role in driving growth and revenue generation for the advisory firm.


The spectrum of roles is wide, but competition is fierce. For those eyeing a career in this field, it’s essential to cultivate these 10 core skills:


    1. Art Knowledge: A strong understanding of art history, movements, styles, and techniques is fundamental. This knowledge helps in assessing artworks, understanding their cultural and historical significance, and advising clients on acquisitions and sales.


    1. Market Research: Keeping abreast of market trends, prices, and auction results is essential. This involves researching art market databases, attending auctions and art fairs, and staying connected with industry professionals.


    1. Client Communication: Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are vital for building relationships with clients and understanding their preferences and goals. Being able to articulate complex art concepts in an accessible manner is key.


    1. Analytical Skills: The ability to critically evaluate artworks, assess their quality and value, and identify investment opportunities requires strong analytical skills. This includes understanding market data, pricing strategies, and financial implications.


    1. Legal and Financial Acumen: Familiarity with legal and financial aspects of art transactions, including contracts, taxation, authenticity, provenance, and intellectual property rights, is crucial for providing comprehensive advice to clients.


    1. Networking: Building a network of contacts within the art world, including artists, galleries, auction houses, collectors, and other professionals, can provide valuable insights and opportunities for collaboration.


    1. Problem-Solving: Art advisors often must navigate complex situations and find creative solutions to challenges such as authenticity issues, market fluctuations, and client preferences.


    1. Attention to Detail: Being meticulous in cataloguing and documenting artworks, conducting due diligence, and managing transactions ensures accuracy and compliance with legal and ethical standards.


    1. Business Acumen: Understanding business fundamentals such as marketing, negotiation, budgeting, and project management is essential, especially for independent advisors or those involved in business development.


    1. Continuous Learning: As we say time and time again…the art market is constantly evolving, so a willingness to stay curious and adapt to changes is essential.


SML and Art Advisories


Whether it’s growing a small team of one to two or scaling up from fifty to more, we boast a proven track record of collaborating with art world advisories at every stage of their growth journey. In line with this, we’ve not only observed but actively facilitated the career transitions that are currently reshaping both emerging and established firms. With so much potential and reward in these businesses, we’re very glad to be a part of their journeys.


Useful Resources


Photo Credits:

  • Victor Lu