Should You be Afraid?

Posted on September 30, 2019

Should You be Afraid? Written by Ankur

It seems that with any hobby where significant amounts of money is involved, fear coincides with it. Looking at the comic art hobby specifically, it seems like there are three different types of fears that exist. Two are fears that I have noticed in collectors, and one is one I have seen in anyone selling whether it’s a collector or a dealer. Now, these are my opinions, but having discussed them with others in the hobby, there is a consensus that these do in fact exist.

The first is a fear we can see in any walk of life. The fear of missing out or FOMO as it’s often referred to. Sometimes we see a piece of art that ticks many boxes on our want list. Those pieces I would suggest you not hesitate too much. But what seems to happen much more often is we see a piece that you like, and may tick of some boxes on your list, but isn’t one you love. You look at it, over and over. Ask your friends what they think. Go back and look at it more. In a sense you are trying to convince yourself to buy it. While it may not be a bad decision, in some cases FOMO creeps in, and you pull the trigger. Later on, when the art arrives in the mail, or when you get home from the con, you question yourself. Why is this a problem? It seems collectors will buy a piece just for sake of not leaving a show or auction empty handed. This is great for sellers, but the problem arises when you try to sell the piece. FOMO is a big fear, and I feel as collectors we need to be more disciplined and understand that there is a TON of art coming into the market. Unless you collect something very esoteric, take a step back and make sure you make an educated decision. Try our art search app to get an idea of pricing and trends.

The next fear which is seen more in collectors than dealers is the fear of overpaying. I can say that I am guilty myself of looking up past sales and auction records to decide the value of a piece. Yes, this can be a good way to gauge pricing, but since all art is one of a kind, it’s not a perfect science like graded books. The issue I have seen, is that many resellers understand the FOMO and have priced things astronomically high for that reason. Some dealers are often more guilty of overpricing than others, and this is known in the hobby. Collectors often do so too, and I will get into that shortly. What I would advise regarding overpaying is this. The first thing you have to decide is the rarity of a piece. Some pieces from certain books and artists just don’t show up on the market that often. Examples would be Ditko Spiderman, Cockrum X-Men and Miller Daredevil. When you research and find a piece that sold, understand that due to supply vs demand, the price may be significantly higher than it was just a few years ago. If the image is memorable or a great composition, it may be worth overpaying slightly for it. Now what is slightly? 10%? 20% or more over market? It quite possibly may take that much to obtain it. Keep in mind, if the content and artist are all there in a piece, it may be worth the risk. An example I can attest to myself is when I bought a Jim Lee page featuring Wolverine about four years ago. At the time it felt expensive for various reasons. But it checked the box of content and artist, so I went for it. It may have been priced about 25% over market, but today is worth substantially more than what I paid. No regrets. Recently a very nice Spiderman cover was offered on a major dealer’s website. The price was double what it sold for a little over a year ago. Is it worth that much more now? Probably not. If he does find a buyer, even with a 20% price drop, the art will be priced considerably higher than its market value. So is it ok to overpay? Yes, but with a few caveats in mind. If the art is plentiful, think twice. If it is not a primo example, think twice. If it doesn’t hit a chord with you, walk away. Odds are it won’t strike a chord with others if you need to sell it. In most cases, if a piece is priced close to double what it recently sold for, it is probably too high. Some things do fall through the cracks, but major covers and splashes by well-known artists usually don’t.

The last fear which when combined with the other two makes things very difficult is the fear of underpricing. Price discovery is nothing new in this hobby. We have been seeing it for years. When a dealer or collector is selling a piece, I have noticed they set the price well above any comparable piece has sold for. Why? We have seen on numerous occasions where art is quickly resold for a substantially more than the first owner sold it for. Some will say, why it should matter when the asking price was paid. While this is true, no one likes to leave money on the table. And in some cases it can be many thousands of dollars. So what is the solution many of us have found? Price sky high and hope that either someone will bite, or you will receive an offer close enough to the asking price. In fact, I have seen a few cases where new collectors with quite a bit to spend have purchased pieces that others felt were priced well above market. It is good for the hobby to see new blood enter and not be afraid to spend money, but it’s a vicious cycle which validates the higher prices.

So as a collector, we need to get past FOMO, and be ready to pass or walk away. Recently I saw a piece by a modern artist posted for sale at $9000. Lovely piece indeed but it was offered privately earlier in the year for about 30% more. While I loved it, I passed and have to assume I was not the only one. If it was an older piece from an artist and content I loved, my thoughts may have been different. It is all a fine balance. Use our search app for art which is fully integrated with Heritage and Ebay to help determine market value. Again, if I can help in any way, feel free to reach out. Happy collecting!

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