What is an appraisal?

An appraisal is the act or process of determining value, estimating costs, or calculating present worth based on an informed judgment which is supported by facts, analysis and processing of relevant factors.

Who is an appraiser?

An appraiser is a professional who specializes in providing opinions of value and valuation services in an independent, impartial and objective manner. Professional appraisers have an education in appraisal theory and the arts and use their training and experience to meet appraisal standards.

Why hire a professional appraiser?

A professional appraiser has a formal education in appraisal theory, principles, procedures, ethics and law. Qualified appraisers have extensive training in the logic and reasoning required to support their opinions and use their years of experience to provide a trusted valuation. Unlike an unqualified appraiser, a professional appraiser meets IRS regulations, belongs to appraisal organizations, complies with ethical standards, and understands how to interpret online data to produce qualified appraisal reports.

What can I do to prepare for an appraisal?

Collecting basic information to provide to an appraiser helps contextualize your artwork. For instance, supplying an appraiser with your art’s ownership history, previous appraisal records, photographs and other relevant information can help expedite the appraisal process.

How will my artwork be evaluated?

Your artwork will be evaluated on the basis of multiple criteria, including:

  • Overall appearance
  • Form (shape and proportions)
  • Ornament (color, texture, type of design)
  • Materials
  • Finish (original, layers, color)
  • Condition (effects of aging, repairs, and wear)
  • Craft techniques (quality of craftsmanship, techniques used)
  • Function (intent of artist)
  • Style
  • Attribution (signatures and labels)
  • History of ownership
  • Evaluation (aesthetic appeal, rarity, cultural significance)

What is the typical appraisal process?

A typical appraisal begins with an initial consultation to gather information regarding the scope of work and intended use for the appraisal. Clients use this consultation to schedule an appointment for the appraiser to visit their residence. The appraiser will conduct an inspection and inventory before making critical assumptions on the art’s condition. After inspecting the art, the appraiser will conduct research to find comparable reference data to arrive at a value conclusion. An organized appraisal report is written to summarize the findings and to ensure the valuations comply with ethical standards.

What do I receive for paying the appraisal fee?

You will receive a qualified appraisal report which includes the following information:

  • A detailed and accurate description of the property subject to evaluation along with measurements and photographs of each object
  • A statement or the reason for the appraisal report
  • A description and explanation of the appraisal method used
  • A statement of the appraiser’s disinterest
  • A notation of condition of the objects appraised
  • Appraiser’s commentary addressing research methods used, valuation factors considered, and placement of the artwork within the artist’s market
  • A summary of provenance
  • A certification of appraisal which includes the appraiser’s qualifications and the statement of the code of ethics under which the appraiser practices
  • A signature of the appraiser and inclusion of dissenting opinions, if any

Common definitions used in the appraisal business:

Fair Market Value: the price at which the property could exchange hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts. This value is commonly used for donation and estate appraisals.

Salvage Value: the amount that could most probably be obtained by dividing the property into its component parts and selling them separately.

Liquidation Value: the most probable price at which property would change hands if sold within a very short period of time without considering the marketplace.

Marketable Cash Value: the amount that would be netted by the seller of an estate subsequent to a sale and after all costs associated with the sale were deducted.

Replacement Cost: the estimated amount of money that will be paid, either to purchase the item, reproduce the item, or manufacture an item that is identical to, or an acceptable substitute for, the subject property. This cost is often used for insurance purposes.

Provenance: French term meaning history of ownership of a valuable object.

Authentication: The act of proving that something is true or genuine.