Before investing, spend as much time as you can appreciating the highest-quality art you have access to. The more hours you spend gawking at the greats, the better-informed you'll be when it comes time to open your wallet. "It's all about the sensitivity of visual perception," says Dowling. "You need the basics. If you go to a museum, you'll be seeing the best of the best and using that fine art as your benchmark to look at everything else." Spend enough time looking at masterpieces, and you'll be better able to recognize the quality of something valuable that you might stumble onto at a yard sale. "Because you spent so much time staring at these beautiful, expensive items, it's going to jump out at you."