Be Smart When Hiring an Art Appraiser

KatherineArt Collecting Advice1 Comment

Art appraisals are an important part of assessing value for an artwork. This is needed for selling art, donating art, and for some tax and financial purposes. Due to the shifting nature of the market, it’s best to appraise art every 2-5 years. There are several factors to consider when hiring an art appraiser. An improper or biased evaluation could misrepresent the overall value of the piece and could negatively affect future resell. By taking the time to find the proper appraiser, collectors can better maintain their investments.

The Appraisers Association of America

The Appraisers Association of America

Look for independent appraisers that are part of wider organizations, such as appraisal associations or societies, which hold them to rigorous standards. They need to be well-versed on numerous subjects, from art history to financial considerations.  Most organizations will require their members to go through a strict process in order to remain in good standing. This ensures the highest quality in each art appraisal.

The American Society of Appraisers

The American Society of Appraisers

It is also vital to receive an impartial valuation of art. Look into which organization an appraiser is representing. If they are part of a special interest group or if they are directly invested in particular work of art, then find someone else. A neutral party will give the best evaluation of worth.

Many people looking to get an appraisal for a work of art do not know there are two different types of appraisals; retail replacement and fair market value appraisals.  Retail replacement value is an insurance appraisal that is based upon how much it would cost to replace the piece. Fair market value would be based on the hypothetical situation of the piece being sold to a buyer. These systems could vary dramatically so it is best to determine which best suits the situation.  Different systems are used by the appraiser to determine the value of a work for each type.  Be clear about your needs as you begin discussions about an appraisal.

There needs to be a high level of trust between a collector and an appraiser. To build that confidence, collectors need to do their research before entering into an agreement. Before hiring the appraiser, ask how they base their fees. The fee should not be based on a percentage of the art’s value. Instead, look for someone who asks for an hourly or flat rate. Before moving forward in the process, ask for an estimate. If there are any red flags such as the appraiser asking to buy the piece in question, it’s best to walk away.

Hiring an art appraiser is a necessary part in maintaining a collection. By remaining knowledgeable on what goes into the process and which questions to ask, collectors remain in better control of their assets.

One Comment on “Be Smart When Hiring an Art Appraiser”

  1. Baxter Abel

    Thank you for including the difference between retail replacement and fair market value appraisals. Is there a difference in the amount of time it takes to do a retail replacement versus a fair market value replacement? I think it would be good to know in case I were to hire an appraiser that charged an hourly rate.

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