Determining Value of Your Art or Antique
Determining the value of your art or antique can take a few hours out of your life. But in the end, it is well worth the effort. Sotheby’s noted “increased interest” in its Appraisals Business during the COVID-19 pandemic as many collectors are eager to understand the value of their collections so they can preserve the value or consider a potential sale.
Below is information on how to contact credentialed, reputable appraisers, where to do your own online research, and how to contact Dr. Lori for an appraisal of your antiques.
Purpose of Appraisal
Before requesting an appraisal, it is imperative to establish its purpose since there are many levels of worth or value to be established. Generally, these purposes fall into the following categories:
1) updating or obtaining insurance
2) managing a loss or damage claim
3) donating the work (many non-profits require appraisals these days)
4) settling a family member’s estate
5) planning to sell or purchase a work of art
6) settling a family division or dispute.
FMV vs Auction Value
When selling or buying a piece of art one generally gets an estimate of the art’s fair market value (FMV) meaning what informed buyers would prefer to pay on the open market. Another value is the auction value, based on what the item would sell for at an auction.
How to Value Artwork
How was it acquired?
Did you obtain it directly from the artist or from a dealer/gallery/auction house? Was it inherited? Do you have any documentation to verify how it was acquired?
Is it original?
Are you certain you have an original painting or sculpture?
What condition is it in?
Is there any visible damage? Any visible repairs? Is the color intact or faded? Works that have never been touched, though dirty and in need of repair, sometimes have more value than ones that have been. When in doubt, seek the advice of a professional before touching it.
Can the artist be identified?
Thoroughly examine the artwork for any signatures, initials, inscriptions or other markings that indicate the name of the artist. For sculptures, check the bottom and sides. For paintings, a framer or restorer could look under the lining and frame. With the artist identified, you can do further research to learn more about the artist and get a rough idea of their recent sales.
Dimensions, date, title, medium (the materials it’s made of), historical provenance (chain of ownership), etc. are all facts that can help determine the value.
Appraisals and Appraisers
Appraisers are trained specialists who work for a fee. They evaluate your piece and give you a written statement of its value. Always seek an appraiser with expertise in the type of artwork you own.
Although the following organizations do not provide appraisals themselves, they each publish a directory of their members who perform appraisals.
American Society of Appraisers
The American Society of Appraisers is a multi-discipline, non-profit, international organization of professional appraisers representing all appraisal disciplines: Appraisal Review and Management, Business Valuation, Gems and Jewelry, Machinery and Technical Specialties, Personal Property and Real Property. Easily find an appraiser by searching their database by name, city, state, country, discipline or specialty.
American Society of Appraisers
11107 Sunset Hills Road, Suite 310
Reston, VA 20190
(703) 478-2228 or 1-800-ASA-VALU
International Society of Appraisers
Founded in 1979, the International Society of Appraisers, or ISA (not to be confused with the International Society of Arborists, which I used to be a member of, as an arborist), is the leading professional personal property appraisal association, representing the most highly trained and rigorously tested independent appraisers in the United States and Canada.
Their members include many of the country’s most respected appraisers, consultants, curators, scholars, gallerists, estate liquidators, auctioneers, and dealers.
ISA has two specialty division:
- Antiques, Furnishings + Decorative Arts
- Fine Art
Outside of these categories, ISA members specialize in many other areas of appraising, including gems & jewelry, machinery & equipment, fine wine, classic cars, sports memorabilia, and others.
International Society of Appraisers
303 West Madison Street, Suite 2650
Chicago, IL 60606
Appraisers Association of America
The Appraisers Association of America, established in 1949, is the premier national association of personal property appraisers who focus on fine and decorative arts. With a membership of over 900 independent appraisers and affiliated professionals in 100 different areas of specialization, the Appraisers Association’s roster of well-established professionals has the widest range of experience and expertise in their respective fields.
Seasoned professionals, members serve public and private collectors alike to deliver independent, ethical, and objective valuations for insurance, estate tax, charitable donation, equitable distribution, and liquidation purposes.
Appraisers Association of America
212 West 35th Street, 11th Floor South
New York, NY 10001
eBay Sold Items
Typing in the artist’s name in the search box on eBay can provide interesting information from past auctions and sales. After you review active listings, be sure to check the Sold Items area on the left side of your screen for items that have already sold. They will appear in green and are only listed for the past 90 days. Keep in mind that the Sold Price is what collectors are actually paying.
Sotheby’s Valuation For Determining How Much Your Art or Antique is Worth
A Sotheby’s specialist will compare your property to similar items recently sold at auction. They will consider important aspects including the artist or maker, country of origin, date of execution, materials used, dimensions, rarity, subject matter or type, color and apparent condition. Their specialists also have deep knowledge of the current market demand for works within their realm of expertise.
I have emailed Sotheby’s many times with a photo of a piece of art I believe may be valuable. They will respond and let you know if they are interested.
Sotheby’s Comprehensive Valuation Services include:
– Estimates for Sale (Private Treaty and Auction)
– Valuations for Collection Management Purposes
– Valuations for Loan Collateral (depending on the jurisdiction)
– Taxation Valuations (Inheritance, Estate, Donation, Gift and Capital Gains Tax)
– Valuations for Family Division
– Valuations for Insurance Purposes
Dr. Lori Antiques Appraiser
Ph.D. Antiques Appraiser Dr. Lori has more than two decades of experience as an expert art and antiques appraiser, museum director, curator, and university professor with a Ph.D. in the field of art and antiques. Dr. Lori is NOT a dealer interested in buying your item cheaply under the guise of an appraiser. Instead, she provides accurate identifications and values – not guesses – based on her expertise. And she does it in writing so you have a record of it.
Request an appraisal in a way that works best for you.
- Send photos and get a report. If your antique is not worth $59, Dr. Lori tells you at no charge!
- Video Call – If you can make a phone call and shoot video with your smartphone or tablet, you can get appraisals from Dr. Lori from anywhere. Show Dr. Lori your items, talk to her in real-time, ask her questions about selling your stuff as she correctly identifies your items and tells you what they are worth as you walk around your house!
- Video call is $199 for 30 minutes. Way worth it, if you ask me!
Auction Houses For Determining Value of Your Art or Antique
Some auction houses host free Open House Days where visitors can bring in their artworks and have auction-house staff members share their expertise. Other houses allow owners to mail their information with a photograph, and their experts will respond. To find an auction house in your area, search online for Fine Art Auction Houses.
Be prepared with any supporting documents such as provenance, purchase receipts, Certificates of Authenticity and previous appraisals as your time with the appraiser is limited.
I attended one of these events in California and had to wait in line for a long time while the panel of appraisers inspected all the items of the people in front of me. In the end, I had a lot more information about my items than I started with. It was free and worth the wait.
Final Thoughts – Determining Value of Your Art or Antique
The value of art is an ever-changing and elusive thing to pin down. That’s why an appraisal by a professional can provide the information you need to make the best decision for your art. So start the process of determining the value of your art or antique. It will be worth your time.
If your artwork shows damage such as girt, grime, yellowing, torn canvas, you may consider having it restored before selling or donating to preserve its value. Visit our blog post on Art Restoration.
On Kelly’s Collectibles and Online Art Gallery, browse through hundreds of hand-picked pieces of collectibles and artwork from emerging to national and international-acclaimed artists. From paintings to sculptures and beyond, we have something you’ll love!
I have been selling art for artists and creators over the past 10 years. I’ve visited their studios and attended their booths at art shows. I know the challenges they face to get their art in front of a qualified buyer. That’s where I come in. Let’s sell your art so you do what you do best – – create more art! Artists learn more here.
Do you have things laying around that could bring in extra cash? We offer consignment services for those who don’t have the time or the know-how to sell their own items. There are no upfront fees and we only get paid if your items sell. Find out more about our consignment services here.