Are you thinking about hiring an art appraiser?  Consider these 4 important points before enlisting an art appraiser.  Keep in mind during the process that the art business is totally unregulated and thus open to all sorts of unscrupulous individuals.  Following these 4 points will help come up with an appraised value that is reasonable, fair, and authentic. The number one reason to hire an art appraiser is for insurance purposes.  Also, there is curiosity of inherited artwork as well as tax purposes in donating artwork to nonprofits such as a museum.

  1.  Credentials.  There are no federal or state regulations to depend upon but there are a number of appraisal societies that vet their members for experience and maintain certain standards of practice.   Take a look at ASA (American Society of Appraisers), ISA (International Society of Appraisers), or AAA (Appraisers Association of America). Memberships require certification in the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).
  2. Background/Experience.  Most of appraisers are generalists with a specialty emphasis. The appraiser needs the experience in the type of art work that requires an appraisal such as contemporary, representational, folk art, photography, etc…  Check the appraiser’s website for a detailed work background and don’t hesitate to ask for a resume.
  3. References.  Start with your friends and colleagues that are collectors. They may have had a good experience with an art appraiser that they can refer you to.  Also, other sources to ask for references include museums, galleries, art consultants, CPA’s and estate practices.  Don’t be surprised if a few names keep coming up with the more research you do.
  4. Appraisal Fees.  As with any unregulated field, fees vary greatly so be sure to discuss fees upfront.  The most common of fee structures involves hourly rates or a flat fee.  Sometimes an appraiser will do a walk-through for a larger collection before fees are determined which is beneficial in getting to know the appraiser before hiring them.