Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Aubrey Beardsley, The Climax, Pen & Ink, Sold $213,300, Skinner, Nov. 16, 2008
Last week I had a discussion with another art person about why understanding the history and availability of an item or item is important to market value. This led us into a deep debate about whether or not value is determined by more than past sales figures. As an appraiser, I know that it is, and, hoping that person will read this article I am going to illustrate the point.

Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) was born in Brighton England in 1872 but his family moved to London in 1883. After several different jobs including a stint in an architect’s office and with an insurance company, Beardsley settled on art as his profession on the advice of Sir Burne-Jones. In 1892 he attended the Westminster School of Art.

Eventually, Beardsley became a caricaturist, an illustrator, and most importantly a provocateur. He was, by far, the most controversial artist of the Art Nouveau period—often depicting dark subjects and the grotesque. But today, it is the work he completed while working with Oscar Wilde on his play Salome that has captured the art world’s attention.

An appraiser near Boston was conducting a routine inspection of an older client’s items when he walked into the bathroom and spotted two of Beardsley’s original drawings over the vanity. The drawings, entitled The Platonic Lament and The Climax are part of only 13 illustrations Beardsley completed for the Oscar Wilde play. Incredibly, the client inherited the works from his grandfather forty years ago and had no idea of their importance. Nine of the pieces are held by the Fogg Museum at Harvard and the whereabouts of these two pieces had been unknown for more than eighty years.

The Climax (pictured) was auctioned for $213,300 (a world record for Beardsley’s work) and The Platonic Lament auctioned for $142,200. Collectors realized that this was likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire two of the final three pieces of the suite created for Salome. Certainly it was not just those interested in collecting Beardsley’s works that were interested in purchasing the pieces. There are also those who collect items related to Oscar Wilde or to Wilde’s plays that were likely interested in the illustrations as well.

Some credit must also be paid to the astute appraiser who recognized the significance of the pieces when he saw them. What if the client had simply had an “estate sale” conducted by someone who was not familiar with Beardsley. Those pieces might have sold for a fraction of what they were worth or they may have never been discovered at all.

For those of you who are counting, there is still one missing illustration. It is entitled Enter Herodias and if it is found it could possibly break the record set in November.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Ellis Wilson, c. 1950s Oil on composite board, 30.5" X 29.25", Aaron Douglas Collection, Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA

Chances are, if you live in Kentucky, you have never heard of Ellis Wilson. Wilson was born in Mayfield, Kentucky in 1899. His works capture the average lives of black people and black culture in both the Southern United States and in Haiti. The artist was known for his proficiency with color and his ability to use simplified forms to the maximum effect. Although he attended two years of college at Kentucky State University, Wilson left at age 19 to study art at the Art Institute of Chicago. After graduation, the artist struggled for five years in Chicago trying to make it in the commercial arts business. Eventually, he gave up and moved to New York where he became very involved in the “New Negro Art Movement” of the 1920s and 1930s. He remained in New York for the duration of his life.
During the height of his career in the 1930s and 1940s, Wilson was well-received and gained some prominence but he was never widely known while he was alive. After the artist’s death in 1977, he was largely forgotten in his home state. Then, in the 1985 The Bill Cosby Show decided to use a Wilson painting on the set. In the episode, Mrs. Huxtable acquired the painting, Funeral Procession, from an auction for $11,500 claiming it was made by her “Great Uncle Ellis” and soon after Dr. Huxtable hung the painting on the mantle. The painting remained over the mantle for the duration of the Cosby Show and ultimately, the exposure revived the interest in the artist.
On December 6, 2008 Neal Auction Company in New Orleans will be offering the paintings below for sale. You can bid online here.

Ellis Wilson, Cooling Cylinders, Cooling, Oil on Silk, 16" X 20", Neal Auction Company (lot 390), will be auctioned on 12-6-08, Estimate: $15,000-$25,000, BID HERE

Ellis Wilson, Colonnade, Promenade, Oil on Masonite, 24.5" X 37.5", Neal Auction Company (lot 386), will be auctioned on 12-6-08, Estimate: $10,000-$20,000 BID HERE

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Thanksgiving, John Currin, Ink and Gouache on Paper, 15" X 18",

Available Through Sadie Coles in London

John Currin was born 1962. His paintings depict provocative themes and he has often been accused of being a sexist. Despite this, Currin is noted for his technical skill, his studied compositions, and his exaggerated depictions of the female form. His work proves that he has a vast knowledge of both art history and popular culture.

Friday, October 31, 2008


During the years between 1891-1925, scientists began to figure out ways to send sound and image through space and through wires. Eventually, this created a new medium in the world. It also spawned new words such as "amplification", "motion picture", "radio", "electron", and "wireless" to enter the vocabulary.
Steve Gompf, the Executive Director of the Television Museum International (the man responsible for the show) says of this medium "The cathode ray tube has become a glass-faced altar." Perhaps that is why each antique "televisor" is placed upon its own pedestal- so that the viewing public can worship and appreciate their idols as individual givers of entertainment.
The exhibit will be on display through November 15, 2008 in the Schneider Hall Galleries on the University of Louisville's Campus. Admission is free.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Man and His Daughter, Eileen Doman

In the early 1990s Eileen Doman began to paint. Until this time, the only predilection she had toward the artistic world was doing hair and painting fingernails in a salon. But once she started to paint, Ms. Doman found an outlet. In 1992 her work was shown at the Outsider Art Fair in New York and just two short years later she was given a solo show at Ricco-Maresca Gallery. By 2001 she had been the focus on "Face to Face with Connie Chung" and soon after the Whitney Museum of American Art acquired one of her paintings.

The people depicted in Eileen Doman's works are predominantly family and friends and the images are often taken from old photographs. Her Kentucky connections lie with her grandmother, Ida Bell who was from a rural part of the state. As a result, many of the scenes the artist paints, depict Kentucky during the depression.

Up for auction is the painting shown above measuring 20" X 24" and estimated at $800-$1200. It will be auctioned at Slotin Self-Taught Artist auction in Gainesville, Georgia on November 8 at 7:00 p.m. You may also bid online by clicking here.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Mad Magazine 1956 cover #30
by Norman Mingo

The New York Times reported this week that Sotheby's and Christie's brought $500 million worth of art work to Russia so that wealthy potential buyers could preview the works. The pieces include those by Kandinsky, Picasso, and Francis Bacon and will be auctioned later this month in London and in early November in New York. This was a smart move by the two giant auction houses who are doing everything they can to keep prices up during the economic crisis.

In other art news, three dozen pages of original Mad Magazine artwork are being offered for sale at Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas. The complete sale is expected to fetch between $250,000-$400,000. Bidding will begin on November 14. An October 29 preview will be held at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Monday, October 13, 2008


On Saturday, October 18, Cowans Auction of Cincinnati will offer the above pair of portraits by Kentucky artist Matthew Harris Jouett (1788-1827). Both portraits are in period gilt frames and are said to have been purchased twenty years after the paintings were completed. The pair depicts Jouett's own brother, John and his sister-in-law Eliza Beverly Brown Jouett and they have never been outside of the family. They were included in the catalog of the artist's work published in 1939. Because of their very good condition, excellent provenance, and personal ties to the artist, the pair is estimated to sell for $50,000-$70,000. If you would like to bid on the pieces or you if you would just like more information, you can visit Cowan's website here.

Matthew Harris Jouett was born in Mercer County, Kentucky on April 22 1788. Jouett studied at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky before serving in the war of 1812. In 1816, Jouett left for Boston where he studied under the famed artist Gilbert Stuart. He soon returned home to Kentucky and established himself as the first prominent artist of the west. He died in Lexington in 1827.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Economic slowdown. What does it mean for the art market?
First, one must understand that the art market is constantly changing. With the fall of communism, the art market was opened up to a group of millionaires that had never before had the opportunity to purchase western works. Particularly affected has been 19th Century American Art.
Recently, Art Market Watch asked to crunch some numbers for the 2008 summer season. The full results can be found here. What the list showed was that prices for high priced artworks are going up. In the first half of 2008, new records were set for almost 1000 artists including Francis Bacon's Triptych from 1976 (seen above) which sold for $86 million. And on June 24, Monet's Le Bassis aux Nymphias from his waterlily series sold at Christies London for $80.5 million.
It is important to note that while prices for expensive works remain high, the number of wealthy Americans buying that art has gone down. This year, due to a weak dollar and because of the economic downturn, Americans are buying less while a group of ultra rich buyers overseas are buying more. According to a story from NPR on Morning Edition (June 25) these buyers are predominantly located in Russia and India. That was the case with the aforementioned Francis Bacon which sold to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
Another way the economy has affected the art market is the way people buy art. Often, art investment groups are lending money to people who want to buy art and then they use the art itself for collateral.
Right now it is impossible to say how the stock market will affect the art market in the coming months but if the trends remain the same, the most prestigious works will continue to sell high.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Kentucky tends to be a conservative state when it comes to buying art. In my experience appraising art collections, most people who live here prefer realistic images painted with traditional techniques.

Although it could be said that artist Shayne Hull paints in a traditional manner, the portraits he creates are often witty, full of color, and although they are fairly realistic, they tend toward a more folk art tradition.

Hull recieved his B.A. at Corpus Christi State University in Texas in 1985 and he received his M.A. from The Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. In Louisville, his works can often be found at Swanson Reed Gallery in Louisville.

Mr. Hull takes commissions for both people and pets. He charges $750 for a 16" X 16" portrait or $2,400 for a 36" X 48". You can visit his website here to view more of his pieces.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


You don't know what you have 'till its gone.
I miss electricity. As I sit in a coffee shop 4 1/2 days after my electricity went out (due to Ike) I have been thinking about the way artists have explored the subject of electricity in art.

My immediate thought was local artist Ying Kit Chan. I was first exposed to this artist's work when I was a graduate student at U of L. One afternoon, taking a break from writing my thesis in the Bridwell Art Library, I wandered across the hall and discovered charcoal drawings the size of Mack trucks hanging on the walls. The drawings were depictions of telephone lines as seen from the ground, looking up. The dark lines against the white background created in such a large format was overwhelming, threatening, and thrilling. Artists have the job of exploring subjects in ways that average people don't think about them. Today, as I look at Ying Kit Chan's work I wonder if he was exploring the power electricity has over our lives. Because of my current lack of power, I know I am looking at his pieces in a different way than the first day that I saw them. Right now they are evil towers keeping me from hot coffee in the morning and the season premiere of my favorite television show.
Ying Kit Chan was born in Hong Kong in 1953 and moved to the United States in 1979. He received his B.F.A. from the University of Oklahoma in 1981 and his M.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati in 1983. Currently, he is a Professor of Fine Arts and Head of Studio Programs at the Allen R. Hit Art Institute at the University of Louisville.
"Industrial Site"
Charcoal on Paper
42" X 84"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Victoria & Albert Purchase Jagger's Lips

On September 2, The Victoria and Albert Museum announced the purchase of the original artwork depicting the famous "lips" logo of the Rolling Stones.
Frontman Mick Jagger's lips originally inspired artist John Pasche in 1969 when the band approached the Royal College of Art in London after Decca Records could not provide a design that suited them. The lips sold at auction for $92, 500 in the United States.

Victoria Broakes, head of exhibitions, V&A Theatre and Performance Collections, said: "The Rolling Stones' Tongue is one of the first examples of a group using branding and it has become arguably the world's most famous rock logo

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Ralph Kovel, a leader in the antiques world died on August 28 after a short illness. Kovel and his wife Terry are known nation-wide as antiques experts and as the duo who produced over 90 books relating to art and antiques, including price guides and reference books. In fact, it was the Kovels who first had the idea to publish a pottery guide which listed pieces by factory markings instead of by country of origin. Long before the Antiques Roadshow, the Kovels were educating the public on art, antiques, and the market. The Kovels had a nationally syndicated newspaper column and produced television shows about antiques on HGTV, the Discovery Channel, and Public Television.
If you are not familiar with the Kovels or their guides you should be. For a small fee, you can subscribe to their website here (which has price guides, articles about antiques, collecting, buying, and selling) or you can purchase one of their many price guides or reference books here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


In the 19th century anyone who was anyone in Kentucky owned a Carl C. Brenner painting. Brenner was a native of Germany but moved to Louisville in 1853 to begin a career as a sign painter. By 1871 he was painting landscapes and soon became known for his depictions of Beech Trees in Kentucky.

Up for auction on September 6 is this Brenner painting at Brunk auctions is Asheville, NC:

The best market for Brenner's paintings is in Kentucky so, if you are interested, you may be able to get a good deal. In recent years, interest in Brenner's work has been increasing. $2000 is the opening bid with an estimate of $4000-$8000.

"(Kentucky, 1838-1888), "Boulder Canon, Colorado", original label verso with title, size and "No. 2", signed lower left "Carl C. Brenner/1882", oil on canvas, 30-1/8 x 25 in.; modern gilt wood and composition frame. Original stretcher and tacking edge, craquelure, slight stretcher marks, light grime, backed with plywood by artist but not laid down. Provenance: The Estate of the Late John Boone, Owensboro, Kentucky"

Monday, August 25, 2008


Sometimes I go into a home and look at a painting only to find I can not read the signature. Other times, the signature is no more than a symbol or initials. In those cases (which are pretty common, quite frankly) I turn to the signature books. In the case of sculpture, the foundry name is often found on the base. In the case of both paintings and sculpture, the name of the company that supplied the materials (such as the canvas, paper etc.) might be located somewhere on the piece. Other names that might be on the piece include the owner's name or a gallery's name.
Always be aware that if an artist signature is on the piece it doesn't make it authentic. Find out as much as you can about the way the artist signed his/her pieces but also look at the piece and see if it "looks right." If there is a catalogue raisonne (a book of every known piece by the artist) get a copy of it and look up your piece. In other words, although the signature is important, it is not the final word when it comes to researching the maker of your artworks.


Castagno, John, ed. American Artists: Signatures and Monograms, 1800–1989. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.
Castagno, John, ed. Artists as Illustrators: An International Directory with Signatures and Monograms 1800 to the Present. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1990.
Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Dictionary of Signatures and Monograms of American Artists. Madison, Conn.: Sound View Press, 1988.
Jackson, Radway, ed. The Visual Index of Artists' Signatures and Monograms. London: Cromwell Editions, 1991.

Edge, Michael S. Directory of Art Bronze Foundries. Springfield, Ore.: Artesia Press, 1990.
Katlan, Alexander W. American Artists' Materials Suppliers Directory Nineteenth Century: New York 1810–1899; Boston 1823–1877. Park Ridge, N.J.: Noyes Press, 1987.
Katlan, Alexander W. American Artist's Materials: A Guide to Stretchers, Panels, Millboards, and Stencil Marks. Madison, Conn.: Soundview Press, 1992.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Julie Leidner, Oil on Canvas

Tonight is the opening of Launchings at the Louisville Visual Art Association. Launchings is an exhibit which highlights the works of several artists who have recently completed their B.A. and are now in graduate school or are working in their studios.

Last night I had a sneak peak of the show and there are many interesting pieces for sale. Especially interesting were the wood block prints of Sarah Hall and the oil paintings of Julie Leidner. Ms. Hall has submitted two books of wood block prints which illustrate an epic poem or story while Ms. Leidner uses "traditional painting techniques to interrupt digital movie images. "

You don't need an invitation to just need to show up. Prices start at the reasonable level of $125. If you are a new collector, this would be a great place to start.

For more information visit the LVAA website here.
The LVAA is located on River Road at the water tower. For directions, click here.
Water Tower Hours:

Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm
Saturday CLOSED
Sunday 12:00-4:00pm

Monday, August 18, 2008


If you are like me, you can't wait to tune into the Olympics every night after work. So imagine my joy when I arrived at the University of Louisville's Hite Art Institute (on my way to complete some research in the art library for work) to find an exhibit of Olympic art and memorabilia comparing the 1936 games in Berlin with today's games in Beijing. On display were some really exciting things including the 1936 Olympic torch, a 1936 Olympic poster designed by Franz Wurbel,
one of the rings presented to high ranking Olympic officials and bearing the swastika symbol, an original Athenian Lekythos depicting a chariot scene from 480 B.C. as well as two ancient gold leaves which were presented as victory fillets, and photographs of Jesse Owens running at the Berlin games.
In an adjoining room is the University of Louisville's newest collection of German Expressionist prints donated by Dr. and Mrs. Richard Edelson. Among the prints is a moving piece entitled "Warsaw Ghetto" completed by Jack Levine in 1969.

On November 11, 2007, Jack Levine's lithograph "To an Unknown German Photographer in the Warsaw Ghetto" sold at Ivey-Selkirk for $275.

On December 4, 2005, Van Sabben Auctions sold the Franz Wurbel Olympic poster for 1,800 Euro or $2,120 US. The poster measures 39.8" X 24.6"

Exhibit runs through Aug. 28.
Gallery hours: 9 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday–Friday;
10 a.m.–1 p.m., Saturday.
Hite Art Institute Schneider Hall galleries, (map) located on Belknap campus
Admission is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Fake Armana Princess purchased by the Bolton Museum in England for £439,767

In the art appraisal business every item has a story. But not every story is true. In fact, that painting your mother told you was buried in the backyard during the civil war may have been made fifty years ago.
Enter the forgery business. Although art theft and the black market are often cited as the biggest problems in the art world, in fact, art forgery may be an even bigger problem. There is, perhaps, no better example of this than the case of the Greenhalgh family led by forger and once-aspiring artist, Shaun Greenhalgh. The family was convicted of a seventeen year forgery operation which spanned the years 1989-2006. During that time, the exact amount of forged pieces put out by the family is unknown. What is known is that Shaun Greenhalgh was prolific. In the Greenhalgh family, the forger's father, George, was the salesman. George was seemingly an unlikely art forger. Wheel-chair bound and grandfatherly, he wore thick glasses and lived in public housing. Because of that, he was never suspected. In fact, he was so good at talking and telling stories he sold many museums and auctioneers into believeing that his items were authentic.
Shaun, George, and Olive Greenhalgh
But what about provenance? Provenance is the provable successive history of ownership and it looks like the Greenhalgh family was good at faking it. Through the years the Greenhalghs established the legitimacy of their items in a variety of different ways. George's wife, Olive, said that her father owned an art gallery, there was the great-grandfather who was long dead but was said to have purchased things at auction, and a relative who worked for the mayor of Bolton and had received art as a gift for his service. The Greenhalghs were eventually caught due to the studied eye of Richard Falkiner of Bonhams auction house but not before they sold a fake Egyptian statue entitled The Amarna Princess for £439,767 or approximately $857,083 to the Bolton Museum in England.
So the question remains. If an art museum can be fooled how can I protect myself?
1. Check the provenance of the items. If there is a period of time where the item is unaccounted for don't buy it.
2. Check the Art Loss Register to make sure the piece is not known to be stolen.
3. Consult with a variety of different experts about your piece. Be willing to pay for an expert opinion
4. Look for inconsistencies. The Greenhalgh was eventually caught because of several anomalies with a piece they were trying to unload at Bonham's auction house. In fact, the cuneiform inscription contained a spelling mistake- an unlikely error for a piece that was "intended for the king."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Born the son of an Alabama sharecropper in 1913 , Marvin Finn left school in first grade to work the fields. In his spare time, his father whittled and eventually taught Marvin to do the same. Because he was from a large family Marvin Finn never had any toys. Instead, he began creating his own by modeling them after barn yard animals.

Mr. Finn followed one of his brothers to Kentucky in 1940, working at a variety of different jobs. In 1952 he married Helen Breckinridge and together they had five children. Mr. Finn's passion for carving wood continued and when his wife died in 1966 the grief-stricken Finn gave up his other jobs and started whittling toys full-time. Over the years Marvin Finn gained many admirerers including Phyllis George who established the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft.

Marvin Finn died in 2007.

Below are some auction results from the last few years.

Marvin Finn-Outsider Art-"Ox" Paint on wood, Dimension: 16 x 13 x 10, Kimball M. Sterling Inc, Nov 3, 2007, sold for $200

Marvin Finn, "Pig" Paint on Wood, Dimension: 7 1/2" H x 11" L, Clark Art and Antiques, June 21, 2008, sold for $30

Marvin Finn- Threee piece lot-. Painted wood cutout. 24"-49" tall Provenance- Richard Edgeworh Outsider Art Estate, Kimball M. Sterling Inc, April 14, 2007, sold for $200

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Today I found one of the best resources for good, affordable art. In fact, it is such a good website, I almost didn't want to blog about it because it may make the best paintings sell faster. However, my feelings of professional duty urged me to keep the public informed:

The site is called Daily Painters and it lists real paintings (not giclees or prints) by accomplished artists. Many, many of these paintings are listed for sale between $100-$125. For quality paintings this is really unbelievable value.

Andy Smith, Marbles in Sunlight, watercolor, 6 x 4 $100

Anne Fewell Marion Rose,
acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas, 8 X 8, $125

Hall Groat II, Bumblebee with Pennies and Quarters, 6 X 6, $100

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Wayne Beam Morrell, Front Beach, Rockport 1975
estimate $4000-$6000

The image of "the beach" is iconic in American art. It conjures leisurely holidays and family picnics. Tempting isn't it? But if you haven't done your research, an image like this one may make you feel more stressed than relaxed. Are you getting a good deal or are they asking too much? How much have similar pieces sold for?
On Monday, July 20 (that's tomorrow!) Trinity International Auctions will be selling a wide variety of art pieces including the one above by Wayne Beam Morrell. Morrell is an American artist born in 1923. A similar piece, below, was sold in May of this year. This piece is the same measurement, the same medium, and is a very similar image to the one being offered at Trinity. It sold for $3450.

24" x 30"

Oil/Masonite, Signed
Auction House:
James D Julia, Inc.
Estimate: $4000-$6000
Sold: $3,450

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Tonight I am giving a talk at the Shively Branch Library in Louisville about how to research your artwork and how to understand the marketplace. If you are interested in attending, there is a brief article in the Courier-Journal about it. Below that, is a link to a map of library location. The talk is at 7:00 p.m.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Bird's Nest by Keith Taylor archival pigment print

You probably know that one of the best ways to keep up with what is going on in the art world is to visit art galleries in every city you visit. But did you know that every year there are art shows put on by universities? This is one of the best ways to buy art. The artists are trained but they have not yet made a career so bargains are aplenty.
If you don't travel a lot or you are just too shy to go to a student show be sure to check out New Blood Art which specializes in affordable art for emerging artists from the UK. Locally, check out the University of Louisville's Belknap Gallery which has a variety of shows throughout the year.
Another option for good and affordable art is 20 X 200. This website describes itself best saying, "We introduce two new pieces a week: one photo and one work on paper. Each image is available in three sizes.* The smallest size is reprinted in the largest batch – an edition of 200 – and sold at the lowest price – $20. Hence the name 20x200."
Finally, the Saatchi Gallery salesroom online takes no commission from the artist and charges no commission from the buyers. All of the transactions go through Paypal. Perhaps the best part of this website is that there is an art forum, artists can create their own profiles, and there are a variety of mediums represented including painting, photography, and video art.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


During World War II, the Nazis stole at least five million art objects from people and countries throughout Europe. When the war was over, the allies tried to find and return as many of the looted items as they could. Today, the search for Nazi stolen art continues with the help of museums, law enforcement, and websites such as the Art Loss Register which allows users to search a database of all stolen art and art objects.

It is important to know that there are no federal bureaus or departments which regulate the sale of art. Instead, art sales are governed by the Uniform Commercial Code. This code is enacted in various states and it says that art work must have a clear title, the item must be what it is purported to be, and it says that the person selling the artwork has to have the legal right to transfer the title. The problem comes in when the work was stolen generations before and has changed owners many times through the years. The fact is, theft nullifies title. If a claim is made in less than four years (or fewer in some places) then the person who most recently purchased the piece does not have a legal right to the artwork. When the statue of limitations is up, it would seem that the person making the claim that the property is rightfully theirs would be out of luck. That is not the case. If the person making the claim did not know who to sue because they did not know where the property was, then they only have to file the claim within the appropriate period after the location of the piece was discovered.

For this reason, it is imperative that you GIVE YOUR APPRAISER EVERY AVAILABLE PIECE OF INFORMATION and that your appraiser conducts due diligence. In fact, in the contract your appraiser sends you there should be a sentence that reads something like, "It is your responsibility to provide me with factual information within your knowledge, as may be requested. This includes, but is not limited to, bills of sale, insurance records, auction catalogs, exhibition records, and previous appraisals of said property." In the case that your work is stolen, the court will try to balance the steps you took to ensure clean title versus the steps the original owner took to report the loss and make it known to law enforcement and the art world.
3. IF THERE IS A catalogue raisonné OF THE ARTIST WORK CHECK IT!

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Six months ago I appraised an artwork that had been in a fire one year before that. The only existing "before" photo was in black and white and was from 1952. Trying to prove that the painting was in excellent condition and had not suffered any damage between 1952 and the present proved to be very tricky for the client. The best I could do for her was to say what I believed was a direct result of fire damage and water damage caused by putting the fire out. Proving that there were no nicks or scrapes in the intervening years was entirely up to her. To get your insurance company to reimburse you for the full value of your artwork after the fact is very difficult when no photos or previous appraisals exist discussing the condition. And, as much compassion as I have when people break, lose, or damage their artwork I can hardly blame the insurance company for not reimbursing their clients for the highest value of the piece.
Damage of artwork is not reserved for just the casual collector. From time to time, institutions with entire departments dedicated to preserving, protecting, and hanging artworks has mishaps. Sometime between June 30-July 1, The Metropolitan Museum of Art's most important terracotta relief by the artist Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525) fell off the wall. The relief, entitled Archangel Weighing Souls had been exhibited in the same spot since 1996. Although the museum's spokesman Harold Holzer was quoted as saying the work was "eminently restorable" one can only hope the museum had very good insurance. To get an idea of how much Della Robia's work can be worth one only needs to look at past auctions. In February of 2003 a glazed terracotta piece by the artist was estimated to sell at Finarte Semenzato between $150,053-$171,489. Damage can hurt value even if the piece is repaired by the best experts in the world. And, as much as it hurts to see your piece is damaged, it is heartbreaking to get less money than you deserve because you did not have a preexisting condition report.

1. (BEST OPTION) An appraisal is always best because your appraiser takes photos and gives a detailed description of your items. This is an unbiased report that your insurance company can rely on.

2. (BETTER OPTION) If you can not afford a complete appraisal have an appraiser come in and take photos and brief notes about each piece. This is a less expensive option and still provides your insurance company with unbiased evidence of the "before".

3.(GOOD OPTION) At the very least you should take photos of each artwork and each signature along with basic notes about size, framing, and condition.


Thursday, July 3, 2008


4th of July, Kevin H. Adams , Oil on canvas, 20" x 20" in, $2800 R.H. Ballard Fine Art, Ltd. R.H. Ballard Fine Art, Ltd., (540) 675-1411
Holiday Collectors make up a good part of the collecting market. Although Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are probably the most collected area, there are certainly people who collect 4th of July art and memorablia. Below are a few items on offer in the marketplace right now

Coney Island, July 4th 1949, Andreas Feininger , 1949, Photograph, 16" X 20", Gallery M (303) 331-8400 Send Email,call for pricing
Rare Large Cotton 19th C American Thirty-Four "Great Star" Flag, Circa: 1860, 50.5" x 74.8"
Equinox Antiques & Fine Art (802) 362 - 3540 Send Email
Circa: 1860The Canton With Thirty-Four White-Painted Stars Arranged In A Five Point Star Formation On A Speckled Blue Field, Hand-Stitched To The Red And White Stripes, Mounted On A Wooden Frame, (Toning, Stains)

Red White and Blue,
Michael Mut , Installations, Contemporary (ca. 1945-present), Denise Bibro Fine Art (212) 647-7030 Send Email

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Paducah, Kentucky. A mecca for artists. Started in August of 2000, Paducah's artist relocation program has become a model and an inspiration for artists and art programs throughout the country. The program gives artists a vested interested in Paducah and the art scene by offering affordable real estate, financial incentives, and help with marketing. As a result, there is a plethora of art talent in Paducah from every corner of the nation. To see a first hand account of how it has affected the life of an artist check out artist William Ferrar Renzulli's blog.
It is no secret in the art world that Kentucky art is under- valued. However, with programs like this gaining national attention, Kentucky art might just be a great investment for the future.

Work by Michael Crouse, an artist who relocated to Paducah from Huntsville, Alabama.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Sometimes you come across an art website and you fall in love. Poppytalk is one of those websites. Poppytalk touts itself as an online "streetmarket showcase, to buy and sell handmade goods of emerging design talent from around the world."

If you are just starting an art collection Poppytalk might be a good place to start collecting. Like many "handmade" art sites, Poppytalk shows a variety of different types of items. For future value, etchings, woodblocks, lithographs, or other handworked print media is usually the best bet. Because giclees are machine produced reproductions, many appraisers believe that the future value will not increase (same goes for home computer printing). If you can, stick to originals or processes that computers were not involved in.

Photography is the exception to the rule. Because of the nature of photography handmade prints are ok.