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Art Appraisals

Whether you collect art for its aesthetic value, as an investment, or both, having an independent professional appraisal is very worthwhile. Moreover, if you hold items whose value is changing rapidly, have these appraisals updated on a regular basis. This is especially important if you buy art insurance, because it enables you to keep an appropriate level of insurance -- thereby neither overpaying for coverage you do not need nor being at risk of being underinsured.

In theory, a professional appraiser should provide you with an estimate of the value of your art based not on its replacement value but on its potential worth if put up for sale now in its current condition. However, depending on the rarity of the art, the expertise of the appraiser in the domain of your art, and potentially outside influences on your appraiser, the appraised value may vary significantly:

  • Be wary of appraisals from art dealers. They have a conflict of interest, since they would like to buy from you at artificially low prices in order to resell at a profit.
  • An appraisal from an auction house also may be suspect. They may overvalue your item to induce you to put it up for auction with them.

If you insure your holdings, the larger, more reputable insurers can help you find an appraiser, whose opinion should be the basis for the policy value. This appraiser should be qualified and independent. Expect the appraiser to be a member of a professional association such as the Appraisers Association of America. If the insurance company insists on a given appraiser whose independence

you question, such as an employee of the insurer, consider hiring an appraiser on your own for a second opinion. If your collection is valuable enough, the second opinion will give you added peace of mind.
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