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By timestaff
April 15, 2010

As Michelle Andrews reported for the Money article “Investments You Can Live With”, prices for art, antiques, and the like are still down significantly from their pre-recession peaks. If you’ve been itching to invest in art but don’t exactly have millions to blow, fine photographs are a great option. Because they’re made in multiples (unlike paintings), they’re much more affordable; you can snap up one by a master for a few thousand dollars. Interested? Get moving — the spring auction season has begun.

The Christie’s sale runs from Wednesday through Thursday; go to christies.com to check out the goods and place your bid (you can go in person if you happen to be in NYC). Thursday’s offerings include a Helen Levitt photo of New York in the ’40s (lot 412; estimate: $4,000 to $6,000), a Robert Frank photo of Peru in the ’40s (lot 313; estimate: $5,000 to $7,000); and Ansel Adams’ iconic “Moonrise, Hernandez, Northern New Mexico” (lot 321; estimate: $7,000 to $9,000).

There’s another large auction at Phillips starting the day after tomorrow (the 16th), also in New York. Go to phillipsdepury.com to see the selection; you can bid online or via telephone. The site has all the info.

Never bought anything at auction before? Consider being a lurker this time. That is, monitor what sells at each auction and for how much, so you can get a sense of how the process works. And next time you’re in New York, attend an auction in person; they’re open to the public, and they’re fun. I attended my first photo auctions at Christies and Sothebys in the ’90s on assignment for Money. I’ve been kicking myself for not buying anything ever since — several photos I considered are now worth many times more than what they sold for then.

Any auction experiences — good, bad, or illuminating — that you’d like to share? Please post them to comments.

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