Why Collectors Sell Their Collections

It’s a question we hear all the time in the auction business: Why is the owner of this piece of artwork, or rare book or hard-to-find map selling it? And, most of the time it’s a hard question to answer. Sometimes the reasons are simple, mundane even, other times it’s personal business and the consignor prefers not to say. 


In 2008, Swann auctioned a wonderful assortment of Art Nouveau posters consigned by Bob and Peggy Marcus, who were retiring to Hawaii and didn’t want to risk taking a paper-based collection to such a humid climate, which was one of the more interesting reasons we’ve heard. And, the sale did quite well, bringing $300,000 for Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge / La Goulue.

Because we had the privilege of interviewing Bill Diodato about the upcoming sale of his Photobook Library, we asked him to answer this common question, and we find his answer quite perfect: