How to start an art buying syndicate

Collecting art doesn’t have to be a solitary pursuit. If you form an art buying syndicate, then you can build a serious collection, increase your artistic knowledge, and enjoy the company of others along the way.


Art buying syndicates are usually formed by friends or associates who, for an agreed period of time, pool resources to build a shared collection. As well as being enjoyable and educational, syndicates give each member the opportunity to own a more significant collection of works than the member might otherwise achieve on his or her own.


Warwick Brown (a former lawyer and art dealer, now an artist and author) has assisted in forming many art buying syndicates. He suggests that syndicates should stick to the following essential elements: 


* The syndicate should have at least 10 members, but no more than 20.


* There should be a binding set of rules, accepted by all members. This helps members know what is expected of them, and also assists in ensuring the syndicate’s funds are appropriately spent.


* A clearly defined collecting policy works best. For example, the syndicate may decide to invest solely in sculptures, or in oil paintings, or in works by emerging artists. A defined policy makes it easier to target what to buy, prevents disagreement as to what to collect, and should ultimately result in the syndicate holding “a significant collection of something." 


* It is best to appoint a buying committee, instead of requiring all members to agree to each purchase.  The buying committee should be rotated, so that all syndicate members have opportunity to participate in buying decisions.


* Each member’s financial contribution should be a fixed sum. This prevents wealthier members from putting pressure on other members to increase their contributions.


* The purchased works should be circulated among members according to a roster system, giving each member opportunity to display and enjoy the acquired works in their home or business premises.


Members should meet regularly (preferably monthly). The meetings should be both social and learning occasions, at which members discuss art, consider possible acquisitions, and invite guest speakers - "learning and sharing knowledge is an important part of the process."


* The syndicate should appoint a secretary to organize meetings and speakers, roster the rotation of works, and maintain a register of each work and its current location.


* Full records should be kept of each acquisition: the date and place of purchase, the price, artist details, and a photograph. Good record-keeping helps members keep track of the syndicate’s collection, and may assist in establishing the provenance of a work that increases in value.


* The rules should provide for what will happen at the end of the syndicate’s agreed collecting period. If the rules express an intention to sell the collection for profit, then the syndicate may be deemed to be a business and subject to income tax. Accordingly, most rules simply provide that the members will meet at the end of an agreed collecting period to vote on the syndicate’s future (ie; whether to continue or to disband). If the syndicate disbands, the syndicate may sell the collection among its members, or offer the collection to the public.


For further information contact ZIMMERMAN - www.zimmerman.co.nz / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.