Appraising Your Art

Knowledgeable art experts are not always qualified appraisers. Finding a reputable and experienced art appraiser is essential for every collector, museum, artist, and investor. Appraisals are also used by lawyers, insurance agents and accountants who advise collectors. When an appraisal is prepared correctly, it can avoid substantial financial loss. Certified fine art and decorative art appraisers are trained and tested in the theory, history and the law of art valuation.

Miriam Smith, a Member of the Appraisers Association of America, has prepared some of the following questions to consider:

Who appraises Works of Art?
There are no licensing requirements for personal property appraisers, so it is important to interview the individual appraiser or review his or her professional profile before making a selection. The appraiser you use should have experience in his/her area of specialization, and should have training in the theory and principles of appraising.
Membership in a professional organization such as the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) or the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) helps ensure that the appraiser is a professional in good standing, has at least three years of appraisal or market-related experience within the area of specialization, will abide by a Code of Ethics, and will prepare appraisal reports in accordance with a recognized standard.

How can I use my appraisal?
Unless otherwise indicated in the report, only you, the client, can use your appraisal. Typical intended uses for appraisals include gathering information such as identity, value and history in contemplation of selling or buying an item. Another use would be for personal planning. For instance, one may wish to divide several items of personal property equitably among a number of children. An appraisal can also help support a claimed deduction for a non-cash charitable contribution of more than $5000, and can assist in the fair and equitable settlement of a transit-related or insurance casualty loss damage claim. Other typical uses of an Appraisal are to obtain insurance, to determine estate tax liabilities, for divorce, and for any function in which litigation is a possibility.

Will the appraiser authenticate items?
No. Appraisers cannot authenticate. Authentications can only be performed by experts who personally examine and, if necessary, perform tests on the item. How can I locate a professional appraiser?
When seeking a professional appraiser to conduct a formal appraisal of your personal property, choose one who is not only knowledgeable about the items being appraised but who is also educated, trained, and tested in appraisal theory, principles and techniques.

Professional Appraisal Associations
To locate a professional appraiser in your area, contact one or more of the following:

Appraisers Association of America, 212-889-5404
American Society of Appraisers, 800-272-8258
International Society of Appraisers, 888-472-4732

Miriam Smith of the Art Resource Group and a Member of the Appraisers Association of America (AAA) conducts appraisals for private collectors, corporations, museums, fiduciaries – lawyers, trust government entities, officers, accountants and executors – in the disposition of large and small estates. The type of appraisals include: Insurance, Estate Planning and Settlement, Disposition or Liquidation of Property, Equitable Distribution, Collateral Appraisals, Conservation and Resale. When Miriam Smith conducts a private appraisal, she will prepare a thorough inventory listing of all your appraised property by category. Valuations, complete descriptions and locations of items in your home are included in the documentation.

Fees vary according to the nature of the collection, the amount of work involved and the travel distance. Our appraisers are available to help you anywhere and anytime. If you have a large collection, Ms. Smith can travel, by appointment, to evaluate your property on site.

Miriam L. Smith
Member, Appraisers Association of America
Art Resource Group
3032 E. Coast Highway
Corona del Mar, CA 92625
(949) 640-1972
(949) 640-1829 fax