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What Are the Best Tips for Fine Art Appraisals?

E. Reeder
E. Reeder

For collectors and dealers of art, quality fine art appraisals are essential. People who collect fine art often want to know the approximate value of their collection, whether for insurance purposes or because of an interest in selling, so high-quality fine art appraisals are a necessity. To obtain worthwhile fine art appraisals, it is essential to know something about credible art appraisers and about fine art itself. Among the ways to ensure a quality appraisal is to ask reliable sources for referrals to professional appraisers. Checking out the recommended professional further and determining his background or specialty and how he goes about an appraisal also are recommended.

Before having fine art appraised or valued, owners and collectors should check around to find a competent and trustworthy appraiser. Local antique dealers and insurance agents may be able to offer the names of some skilled appraisers. If no local recommendations can be found, professional appraisal organizations often are able to recommend someone skilled at providing fine art appraisals. Fine art owners should make sure the chosen appraiser has specialty knowledge suitable to the art in question, because some appraisers only have generalist knowledge while others focus their knowledge on a particular specialty area.

Woman painting
Woman painting

After an appraiser has been chosen — or, better yet, during the selection process — fine art owners or dealers might want to check out the particular appraiser a bit more. They could ask for the appraiser’s resume to learn more specific information about the appraiser’s qualifications and experience. Asking to see a sample appraisal also would be worthwhile, because that would indicate how the appraiser arrives at his or her estimates and assessments. If possible, it also might be helpful to speak directly with clients who have hired the appraiser in the past.

When speaking directly to the possible appraiser, it would be wise for those needing fine art appraisals to ask about how the appraiser will arrive at a cost for the job. Most appraisers charge a flat fee, an hourly fee or a daily fee for their services. It is unprofessional and unethical, as well as a way to lose licensure and certification, for appraisers to charge a percentage of the item they are appraising as their fee.

Fine art owners and dealers should do some research themselves before having a fine art appraisal conducted. It would be helpful, for example, to research the artist of the painting or sculpture in question, his or her other art pieces, and the approximate market value of those pieces, if available. Knowing about the trends in art and about other artists from the same time period as the piece being appraised also would be useful.

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