AN EXPLANATION OF VALUE AND APPRAISALS
Value is the relationship between property and those who buy, sell, or use it. As such it is never a fact, but an opinion of worth at a given time in accordance with a specific definition of value. An opinion of value can be expressed as a specific monetary amount or a range of monetary amounts. For art on paper (including fine prints, drawings, photographs, and rare books) value depends on many factors, including, but not limited to: authorship, age, medium, dimensions, quality, rarity, condition, provenance, historical significance, edition size,and the art market.
The purpose or reason for an appraisal is critical in determining value. A print’s value will vary depending on whether its appraisal is for charitable donation, estate tax, insurance, or some other reason. Determining the value of prints, drawings, photographs, and rare books is the job of a fine-art appraiser.
An appraisal is an opinion of value provided by an individual with experience and expertise in the type of art property being evaluated. He/she has successfully completed an education in appraisal theory, principles, procedures, ethics, and law. Qualified appraisers adhere to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), a set of requirements that establish basic ethical and performance standards for the profession. Such standards include the appraiser’s certification that he/she has no financial interest in the subject property. Payment for the appraisal is never based on an expected outcome, the attainment of a stipulated result, or the occurrence of a subsequent event. Although there is no license for fine-art (personal property) appraisers, individuals who declare they are fine-art appraisers must have passed the USPAP course within the past twenty-four months. Appraisers must adhere to the USPAP rule that states that he/she must be competent to perform the assignment, or acquire the necessary competency to perform the assignment, or withdraw from the assignment. Dealers, artists, and anyone who is not USPAP compliant and/or has an interest in the appraisal outcome is not a legitimate fine-art appraiser. USPAP-compliant appraisers must be impartial and unbiased, avoid conflicts of interest, and never charge a fee based on a percentage of the appraised value or other contingencies.
Individual appraisers can be located through the online membership directories of the professional appraisal organizations. Further information about value, appraising, and appraisals is also accessible through these websites:
- Appraisers Association of America: https://www.appraisersassociation.org
- American Society of Appraisers: https://www.appraisers.org
- International Society of Appraisers: https://www.isa-appraisers.org
The brochure Valuation of Fine and Decorative Art published by The Appraisal Foundation is also a useful resource: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5077078ee4b0d8ba5ea11f45/t/54f2376de4b03a5161438855/1425160045745/TAF_2014_FineArt-Appraisal_web.pdf