How Art Dealers Make Money?

How do art dealers make money? What are some of the strategies that they use to generate revenue?

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In the art world, the term “dealer” usually refers to an individual or company that buys and sells works of art. Dealers can act as either agents or principals, and they usually specialize in a particular type of art, such as paintings, sculptures, or works on paper. While some dealers operate more like traditional businesses, others may function more like curators, selecting works of art for exhibition in galleries or museums. In either case, dealers play an important role in linking artists with collectors and helping to ensure that artworks find appropriate homes.

While most people enter the art world as hobbyists or amateurs, a few eventually decide to turn their passion into a profession by becoming dealers. Operating a successful dealership requires a deep knowledge of the market for the type of art you sell, an eye for spotting promising talent, and good business sense. It can be a highly competitive field, but those who are able to build a successful enterprise can reap significant rewards.

The Business Model

An art dealer is a person or company that buys and sells works of art. Dealers typically buy works of art from artists, collectors, estates, galleries, and other dealers, and then sell those works of art to private collectors, corporate collections, museums, and other institutions. Many art dealers also offer services such as appraisals, consultations, and framing.

The business model of an art dealer generally involves four main activities:

1. Acquiring works of art: Art dealers typically acquire works of art through relationships with artists, galleries, collectors, estates, and other dealers. They may also purchase works of art at auction or through private sales.

2. Marketing works of art: Once a work of art is acquired, an art dealer will promote it to potential buyers through a variety of channels including exhibitions, catalogues, website listings, and specialist publications.

3. Selling works of art: When a buyer is found for a work of art, the art dealer will facilitate the sale and often take a commission on the final price.

4. After-sales services: Art dealers may offer a range of after-sales services such as framing, delivery, installation, and storage.

The Art Market

Most people buy art for pleasure, to brighten up their homes or as an investment. But how do art dealers make money?

The art market is a global industry worth an estimated $63.7 billion annually.1 Art dealers are the middlemen of the art world, connecting buyers and sellers and taking a commission on each sale.

The amount of commission charged by an art dealer varies depending on the type of work being sold, the reputation of the dealer, and the price of the artwork. For example, dealers who sell more expensive works of art may charge a smaller percentage commission than those who sell more affordable pieces.

In addition to commissions, art dealers may also earn money through artist consignment agreements, resale royalties, and private sales.


Art dealers are people or businesses that buy or sell art. An art dealer typically acts as an intermediary between an artist and a customer; they usually take a commission from any sale they make.

Art dealers typically charge a commission, which is a percentage of the final sale price. However, some art dealers may also charge an hourly rate, a flat fee, or a retainer. The commission that an art dealer charges depends on many factors, such as the type of artwork being sold, the geographical location of the sale, the reputation of the art dealer, and the relationship between the art dealer and the artist.

In addition to their commission, art dealers may also charge fees for services such as framing, packing, shipping, and storage. When pricing artwork for sale, art dealers will also consider any overhead costs associated with doing business, such as rent, insurance, and employee salaries.


Consignment is when an artist gives their work to an art dealer or gallery on the promise that the dealer will sell the work and give the artist a percentage of the profit. The artist usually gets 50% of the sales price, but this can vary depending on the agreement between the artist and the dealer.

The big advantage of consignment for artists is that they don’t have to front any money for materials or production costs. This can be a big help for artists who are just starting out and don’t have a lot of money. It also allows artists to show their work in galleries and get exposure to potential buyers without having to worry about selling the work themselves.

The downside of consignment is that it can take a long time to sell a piece of art, and the artist may not get paid until (or if) it sells. In addition, some galleries take a very long time to pay their consignors, which can be frustrating for artists who are counting on the income.


Resale is one of the most common ways that art dealers make money. When an artist sells a piece of art to a gallery, the gallery typically keeps the piece for a period of time before offering it for sale to the public. The gallery will mark up the price of the piece to cover their costs (e.g., shipping, framing, marketing, and overhead) and to make a profit. When the piece is sold, the artist gets a percentage of the sale price, typically 50%.


Many art dealers are also art collectors. They buy works of art not only because they like them, but also because they think the pieces will appreciate in value over time. This can be a good investment strategy, but it’s not without risk. Like any other investment, the value of a work of art can go up or down, and there’s no guarantee that it will recover its purchase price if you need to sell it. But if you have the patience to hold on to a piece for several years, or even decades, it could pay off in a big way.


An appraisal is when an art dealer establishes the value of a piece of art. The three main ways art dealers make money are by charging for their services, through commissions, and by buying low and selling high.

Art dealers usually charge a percentage of the final sale price as their fee. For example, if an art dealer appraises a painting for $1,000 and it sells for $10,000, the dealer will make $1,000. Commissions are also common in the art world. An art dealer may charge a client a 20% commission to find and purchase a specific piece of art. In this case, if the painting the client wanted cost $10,000, the client would pay the art dealer $2,000.

The third way that art dealers make money is by buying low and selling high. Art dealers often buy paintings from private collectors or other dealers and then sell them for a higher price. For example, an art dealer may buy a painting for $5,000 and then sell it to a client for $10,000.

Appraisals are just one way that art dealers make money. Dealers also make money through commissions and by buying low and selling high.


Here’s how it works: the gallery buys an artist’s work for, say, $5,000. The artist then signs a contract stipulating that the gallery will receive a 50% commission on any resale of the work during a period of usually five to seven years.

The commission gives the gallery an interest in finding a buyer for the piece and also protects it from having to absorb the entire loss if the artist’s market value falls. (Keep in mind that galleries are in business to make money, not to gamble on speculation). At the end of the contract period, ownership of the piece reverts back to the artist.


Shipping costs are one of the major ways that art dealers make money. Many times, artists will include the shipping cost in their asking price for a piece, but most dealers will add on an additional fee for shipping. This is because shipping can be very expensive, especially if the piece is large or going to a different country.

Another way that dealers make money is by charges commissions. When an artist sells a piece of artwork through a dealer, the dealer will usually take a percentage of the sale price as their commission. The commission is usually between 10 and 20 percent, but it can be more or less depending on the artist and the piece of artwork.

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