Interview with Whitewall Magazine “Advisory Expert – Heidi Lee”, March 24, 2009
By Katy Donoghue | March 24, 2009
Whitewall launches its Experts Series with art advisor Heidi Lee. Every month, Lee (of Heidi Lee Art Advisory) will help us digest and filter market, news, and collecting trends. But first, let’s get acquainted.
WHITEWALL: In a recent interview with Whitewall at Art Basel/Miami Beach you said you try to connect artists and collectors through Heidi Lee Art Advisory. In what ways do you do that? Do you encourage your clients to be more active participants in the art world?
HEIDI LEE: Whenever there is a curator’s talk, a studio visit or something else of interest to my client I immediately let them know about it and extend an invite. I am a member of several museum groups and art associations so it helps keep me connected to what’s going on at any given time. My clients know they can count on me to give them access to art and to keep them up to date.
WW: For contemporary and modern works, what risks lie in the secondary market? What about the primary market?
HL: The secondary market tends to have more authenticity issues and is less transparent than the primary market. Proper diligence is important whenever buying art on resale. Usually the artist is no long living so they cannot defend themselves on disputes of authenticity. Also, issues on restoration can be incorrectly handled since the artist is not there to make the final call. Some states in the US require by law that royalties be paid to the artist so one also should be aware of any legal issues surrounding an artwork.
Dealing on the primary market on the other hand, is more direct and information tends to be more reliable. The artwork comes straight from the artist’s studio to the collector, usually through the artist’s dealer.
“This is a very rare opportunity to buy top quality art at great prices.“
WW: Your clients range from private, to corporate, to institutions. How does your approach differ from arena to arena?
HL: Corporate or institutional clients tend to have more limitations depending on the level of bureaucracy that is involved. For example, they may have an art committee that approves each decision. The artwork selection can be limited if it needs to appeal to a larger public audience.
Private clients are more flexible in their choice of art, including subject matter, installation, and medium. Since it is someone’s personal collection, the options can be endless.
WW: Along with advisory, Heidi Lee Art Advisory offers appraisal services as well. In the current market, is it difficult to properly appraise contemporary works?
HL: All markets are cyclical so prices are constantly fluctuating. As an art appraiser, it is my responsibility to evaluate an object as accurately as possible using the best resources available. I estimate prices of artworks by attending auctions, using auction databases and referring to my solid network of trusted art dealers. So in effect, appraising contemporary works is no different from appraising other fine art objects.
WW: What have you been telling your clients who maybe be uncertain or anxious in this current climate?
HL: We are witnessing a remarkable time in history. This is a very rare opportunity to buy top quality art at great prices. And as long as you really love the art you buy there is no way you can lose.
Heidi Lee specializes in Modern and Contemporary art collections for corporate and private clients. She gained experience working for VIART Corporation where she helped manage art collections for Fortune 500 companies. Ms. Lee holds a master’s degree from Christie’s Education in Modern Art, Connoisseurship and the Art Market and is a certified USPAP art appraiser. Recently, she was re-elected as Chairperson of Christie’s Education Alumni Society. She lives in New York City and volunteers at local schools and charities.