If There Ever Comes A Time…

We’d be foolish to think we could hold on to our collectibles and antiques forever. Do you have questions about disposing of part (or all) of your antiques collection? You have several options, and may elect to choose more than one and Bruce is here to share all of those options here with you. Pro Tip: You should always consult your tax advisor along the way as well just to be sure you’re covering all the appropriate bases.

Here, then, are some things to keep in mind:

1.) Make sure key members of your family are comfortable with whatever you choose to do.

2.) If you plan to make gifts to family members or friends, identify those pieces first and set them aside, with each one marked for the recipient.

3.) If you plan to donate pieces to an institution, such as a museum or other non-profit, you can take a tax deduction for those pieces. Your tax advisor can provide details.

4.) Naturally, the ideal situation for any remaining pieces you wish to sell would be to find one person who would buy the entire collection at retail value. That, however, rarely happens, if ever. When someone offers to buy an entire collection, they generally expect a volume discount, just as in most business transactions.

5.) The next option any seller has is to undertake the selling themselves. The internet has made this quite easy with avenues like eBay and Craigslist, and the return can be great if you’re willing to do all the listing, selling and shipping work yourself. But the cons may outweigh the pros.

6.) Another option to consider would be placing the items on consignment with an antiques dealer. This transfers the work and risk of showing over to a professional. In exchange for doing so, the antiques dealer would charge a consignment fee, which could range from 20% to 35% of the selling price. While this relieves you of the work and risk, it is a slow process, as it might take months or even years to sell everything, depending on the set price, the current market, and the level of interest in the pieces.

7.) Along that same line, but faster, would be to sell the collection to one dealer for one price, then let the dealer sell them at his or her own price and pace. Dealers, however, cannot pay retail value and expect to make a profit, so in exchange for one dealer buying your entire collection, the dealer would expect a sizable discount from the retail price.

8.) Another option would be to send the pieces to auction. Again, this relieves you of the work, but the auction house will take a percentage of the final bid of each piece as their commission to cover all of their expenses in advertising, cataloging, selling, and staffing. The percentage varies, according to the auction house and the size of the collection. Choosing an auction house with the lowest commission is not always wise, as that auction house might not invest as much money in advertising your sale. Naturally, the auction house wants to sell each item for as much as possible, for the higher the bidding goes, the more they make on commission.

That being said, auctions are also risky, for the final price is totally dependent on two bidders being interested in each piece. While you can set a reserve price, which protects you should the bidding falter, the reserve is far below the retail price. For instance, if a piece is estimated to sell at $500-$700, the reserve price might be $400, which means if it sells at $425, you have to accept that as the final price, minus the auction house commission. Everyone likes to think about the pieces that soar to final bids beyond expectations, but for every one of those there are a dozen that sell at the bottom of the pre-sale estimate.

And as stated earlier, it’s always wise to speak with a tax professional before making any major decisions with your collection.

Best of luck!