The Art of Appraising


This presentation will explain the many aspects of an appraisal; types of an appraisal, purposes of an appraisal; definitions of values used in an appraisal and who is qualified to do an appraisal.

Appraising art is not an exact science, but more of an interpretation based on knowledge, experience, and research. Art collectors may collect for investment or love of art.

When is an art appraisal needed? 

An appraisal is needed when there is a sale, relocation, estate planning, tax deduction, or damage/loss. You may also need one for more mundane reasons such as getting insurance coverage (as mentioned above), determining appropriate care and storage conditions, establishing a basis for future decisions about buying/selling/restoring artwork in your collection etc.

What's the purpose of an art appraisal? 

The main purpose of an appraisal is to assign a monetary value to something for the purposes of buying, selling, or insurance coverage. When most people think of an appraisal they think of insurance coverage in case of fire or theft. While this is one important reason to get an appraisal it is not the only one. Other reasons include estate planning/taxes, donation estimates for tax deduction purposes, and determining a fair price when buying or selling art privately or at auction. It is always best to get an independent professional opinion when making any decisions about the monetary value of your collection as it takes years of experience and knowledge to accurately assess worth.

What type of art appraisal do I need?

There are different types of appraisals that can be done depending on the situation and purpose. The three most common are Fair Market Value (FMV), Replacement Cost New (RCN), and Forced Liquidation Value (FLV). FMV is what someone would pay for the item on the open market taking into account all relevant factors such as condition, date of creation etc. This valuation is used in cases where the artwork is being sold outright with no restrictions on how quickly it must sell (i.e. no forced liquidation). RCN values what it would cost to replace the item with one of similar age, quality, provenance etc. This type of valuation is often used by museums or individuals with rare items that cannot be replaced easily (if at all). FLV takes into account all relevant factors mentioned above but also assumes that the artwork must be sold immediately regardless of market conditions i.e "fire sale" circumstances.

Who do I hire for an art appraisal?

An appraiser will give their professional opinion of value based on recent market activity, art trends, replacement cost, and their expertise. When hiring an appraiser you want to make sure you find someone who knows about your type of collection and has enough experience to accurately value your pieces . For example , if you have Old Master paintings then you want someone who has expertise in that area specifically . There are many reputable organizations that certify appraisers such , so make sure whoever you hire has these credentials . You should also interview multiple candidates before making your decision as it's important to find someone you trust and feel comfortable working with .

Collecting art can be a rewarding hobby whether done for investment or love but it's important to get professional help when assessing worth by understanding when, why, and how to get an accurate appraisal you can ensure that your collection reaches its full potential.

Nancy Harrison Shares Her Expertise

This talk is given by Nancy Harrison, the Senior Fine Art Specialist at Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance, who will explain the process of art appraisals in detail, including:

  • The purpose of an appraisal
  • When is an appraisal needed
  • What type of appraisal is needed
  • Who to hire for an appraisal

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Nancy Harrison

Nancy Harrison is the Senior Fine Art Specialist at Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance. She was a Senior Vice President and Director of the l9th Century European Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture Department at Sotheby’s for over 25 years. Prior to joining Emigrant Bank Fine Art Finance, Ms. Harrison was President of her own art appraisal and advisory firm which brokered sales and acquisitions,...

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