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YAAY: How to determine what your fine art collection is worth?

Lyle Sopel -

Dear Collector Friend,


After careful acquisition and consideration of your fine art collection you take a step back and contemplate what your carefully curated pieces are worth as a collective. As an avid collector what are the first steps to take to gain a better understanding of how art is valued? Along with what your beloved collection could yield should you decide to sell or alternatively hold as a long term investment passed down for generations to come.

Art is the ultimate luxury item and to have amassed or inherited a collection possibly worth millions is quite impressive. But unless you are experienced at pricing art or have a Masters in Art History; before making assumptions it is time to call upon the professionals to get an accurate and concise opinion. Art appraisers, consultants and advisors actually possess extensive knowledge and experience that is worth paying for.

All types of avant-garde transactions happen outside of the gallery walls, more often than not between private parties, and that is where art appraisers and advisors are very convenient. They bear more capabilities of determining fair market values under any circumstances and are capable of providing the most current and accurate price information available.

“Fine art may be the most subjective commodity of all which means the value of art is also totally subjective.  In the end it all comes down to perspective.  Accordingly, there are a lot of factors that go into creating value in an artist’s work beyond the cost of materials and the time it took to create it and they all center directly on creating and influencing the perception of value in the eyes of the collector.”

According to the American Society of Appraisers the generally accepted meaning of Fair Market Value is defined as Fair value is the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date.” (FASB Statement No. 157, 2007)

An appraisal establishes the value through extensive research, and employs not only published sources but also esteemed auction house and gallery sales records. Works are evaluated in relation to others of similar age, condition and era. The amount asked or offered is determined by personal interests of both the seller and the purchaser, and trends in the market.

It is of the utmost importance to seek out a reputable appraiser or consultant. Auction houses can provide excellent information on what your collection could be worth. Art galleries often also have an advisor on hand that can work on the appraisal of a compilation.

Some auction houses host free “open house” days where visitors who wish to have their pieces appraised can bring in their artworks and have auction house staff members share their expertise with them.

For those that prefer not to remove work from their home, other houses will allow owners to mail their information with a photograph and any other information they deem valid for the appraisal, and their experts will respond accordingly.

There are even services that can bring the appraiser to your home in the case you are dealing with a delicate sculpture or painting that is much too large or too old to move and require a careful look in the flesh. To find an auction house in your area, search online for “fine art auction houses.” Trusted appraiser site

Can also be looked to when deciding who to contact when a detailed valuation is in order.

Always remember that your unique and valuable collections require a special kind of ‘safety net’. Scheduling items in your insurance policy is one of the best ways to protect you and your wistful investments or inheritance against losses due to accident, theft, fire, shipping and loaning and natural disasters to name a few. Don’t let the unexpected maim years of carefully curated or bequeathed pieces that are dear to the heart of you and yours.

Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,


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