Understanding The Appraisal Profession

When you retain the services of an attorney, a doctor or an accountant you expect that individual to have had the appropriate education and experience to have passed examinations that assure you of his or her competency to successfully provide the services you require.

Why then do you too often fail to demand the same requirements of an appraiser?

I’m thinking about this a lot because I just took a four day 15-hour recertification course and examination in The Uniform Standards of Processional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) one of many I’ve had to attend and be tested on over my years as an appraiser. In not so many months I will have to take a related seven-hour course. These are apart from countless attendances at symposia, lectures, museums, art panels as well as courses taken, gallery and museum visits, articles written, articles read, and whatever else it takes to keep up with my profession – just as is mandated for attorneys, doctors, accountants. In other words, we are all in the same professional boat, and paddling like crazy just to keep up with new rules, regulations and developments in our particular fields.

In other words, professional appraisers must undertake with the same rigor those standards that other professionals maintain to earn the public trust.

Because this is a big topic to take on, I’ve decided to break it up into multiple short articles. Right now all I’m trying to do is provide a little clarification on the subject of appraising.

DEFINITIONS

First of all, exactly what is an appraiser? My definitions are compliant with the USPAP manual based on the Appraisal Standards Board of The Appraisal Foundation, the governing organization for all professional appraisers.

1)      An appraiser is someone who in order to develop an opinion of value without bias is expected to perform valuation services in a competent manner, independently, impartially and objectively.

2)      The appraiser’s client is the person or persons who contact an appraiser for a particular assignment, but who may not be the person responsible for payment. In other words, if an attorney engages the appraiser he is the client although the attorney’s own client is the one who pays.

3)      Before actual work is undertaken by an appraiser he or she has to determine the scope of work necessary to identify the problem to be solved, figure out and perform all the work necessary to come up with credible results for the intended use and analyze and provide the appraisal report.

These are simply general guidelines for utilizing the services of an appraiser. However, users of appraisal services should understand that professional appraisers must comply with USPAP when required by law or agreement with the client.

An appraisal may be written or verbal, but in both cases there must be a work file maintained that includes certification by the appraiser. This work file must be retained at least five years after preparation of the report or at least two years after final judicial disposition of any proceedings in which testimony was provided by the appraiser.

Any decision as to the purpose of the appraisal and the kind of value to be utilized is made between the appraiser and his client before the initiation of work so that there are no misunderstandings about the goal of the assignment. There should be a letter of agreement or formal contract drawn up prior to the onset of the work by the appraiser.

Although “valuers” (appraisers) in Europe are not compelled to follow USPAP, many do. Many more adhere to similar regulations in the “Red Book” of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). European associates of OTE, when acting as professional appraisers, are expected to also be in compliance with these standards.

With all these clarifications, we’re now at the very beginning of the job.

Next time we’ll discuss what steps the appraiser must take to perform a professional appraisal.

 

Elin Lake-Ewald, PhD,ASA,FRICS

Art Fairs, From the Bottom to the Top

OTE President Dr. Elin Lake-Ewald at  TEFAF in   Maastrict, Holland

OTE President Dr. Elin Lake-Ewald at TEFAF in Maastrict, Holland

From Maastrict to the PierShow with little time between – that’s the way the art world can spin. My first exposure to the European Fine Art Fair in Maastrict Holland, the most beautiful and civilized art scene I’ve ever attended. There were crowds of course, but nicely mannered and for the most part smartly dressed; the food was good to taste and elegantly presented, and the dealers in the booth eager to explain the history of their wares – for three quarters of the booths presented  Old Master work and the remainder was Modern, not Contemporary.  It was an oddly smoothly experience after all the razzmatazz of the earlier weeks in Manhattan and the hustle of the latest, the newest, the most provocative.

One fascinating fact: at the Weiss Gallery booth I was drawn in by the 16th portrait of Marie de Huelstre by Frans Pourbus the Younger and got into conversation with the dealer from whom I learned that a great source of these early portraits was from the United States! Apparently when the colonists came to America the most affluent of them were accompanied by ancestor portraits (or perhaps they weren’t yet ancestors at the time). Now there is a sort of restitution – those Europe originated paintings are being brought back across the Atlantic by English dealers and finding closer connections within England and the European Union. All I could wonder was who could possibly have wanted to part with any of these portraits, even if not a sentimentalist?

TEFAF

TEFAF

On the other hand there was literally nothing in the way of jewelry and collectibles you couldn’t find at the Pier Show last weekend. Visiting that vast space on the windy water site is like landing in the middle of a thousand attics and jewel boxes spilled higgely piggely out onto the stadium floor. No Old Masterpieces to be found here, but it’s lots of fun, especially if you enjoy bargaining a bit. As noted in the nearby photos, some booths sell well, while others look as packed at the end as they were at the beginning. Most of the dealers only show at these events and hold day jobs, so for a number this is a hobby, not a profession. You may know as much as they do, so not much chance for intimidation. For the new collector, and for those who are shy about asking prices, this may be the perfect start for dabbling your toe in that swirling pond we call the Art Market.

Written by Elin Lake-Ewald

 

Art, Art and More Art: Armory Week 2015

Similar to past years 2015 had an intensely packed schedule of art fairs and events. The foremost of which is the Armory show itself which this year hosted 199 galleries from 28 countries around the world. Other major art fairs included the ADAA show, SCOPE, PULSE, Spring Break, Independent, Art on Paper and Volta.  Overall an excitingly exhausting amount of art, some good, some bad.

Le Rêve   by Cameron Gray at Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago, IL) - The Armory Show

Le Rêve by Cameron Gray at Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago, IL) - The Armory Show

Detail of  Le Rêve   

Detail of Le Rêve 

 At this year’s art fairs there was no shortage of whimsical pieces made of unusual materials or using innovative techniques. At the ADAA Art Show,  Armory Show, and Volta we enjoyed works with the trompe-l'œil, illusionary quality that invites the viewer to take a closer look.

This iteration of Le Rêve by Cameron Gray at Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago, IL) is actually a skillfully composed mosaic of tiny florals. Three steps back, the eye combines them into the lyrical form of Picasso’s famous mistress.

 At Adler & Conkright Fine Art (New York, NY), a quiet, clever work on paper by Liliana Porter features a wire eyeglass frame collaged atop its silkscreened shadow (in the slideshow below).  

A large and intricate geometric pattern by Leonardo Ulian shown by The Flat – Massimo Carasi (Milan) initially appears to be a web of jewels, but further examination reveals it to be a network of electrical components.

Detail of  Leonardo Ulian's work

Detail of Leonardo Ulian's work

Leonardo Ulian peice at the Flat - ADAA Show

Leonardo Ulian peice at the Flat - ADAA Show

A cheekily funny work that could easily be passed over, were it placed almost anywhere besides at the center of a contemporary art collection, is Gavin Turk’s American Bag at Ben Brown Fine Arts (London) (in the slideshow below).  Looking like a jumbo-sized black garbage bag it is an interesting statement piece for home or yard. Humble as it is, the label confirms it is painted bronze.

One fair that stuck out of the crowd was Spring Break. Located in a derelict post office Spring Break is a curator-driven art fair started by Ambre Kelly and Andrew Gori in 2009. Unlike its counterparts this fair is focused on installations and experiential art and is definitely a bit more rough around the edges. We loved the Christine Sciulli Propulsion Field light installation. For many it seemed like an oasis away from the other gallery driven art fairs, one that was willing to experiment and even get a little gritty. 

Best in Show: Auction House Previews

Vintage Diamond Ring tried on at a Christie's jewelry preview

Vintage Diamond Ring tried on at a Christie's jewelry preview

Auction previews happen all the time in New York City, but who goes? Well intrepid collectors, obviously, looking for their next big purchase and art world insiders. At any time the top auction houses: Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Phillip’s and Bonham’s, have a rotation of artwork, furniture or jewelry (just to name a few) on view. What is not widely known is that these previews are open free to the public. What is so exciting about this is that much of what is on view will go from private collections back into private collections. For some of these artworks and objects this is the only time they will be viewed by the public.

Not to mention, if you are a jewelry lover like me and want to try on $100,000+ rings, necklaces and earrings this is your chance! All one has to do is walk in and ask what floor the preview is and then you are good to go. But this is not the only reason you should go to a preview. Much like a museum or gallery these exhibitions are often curated and will offer a different perspective on the work at hand. An upcoming auction at Sotheby’s, The New York Sale, looks like a good prospect. According to Sotheby’s this is a curated auction of “items from, inspired by and celebrating New York City.”  This inaugural New York Sale includes Print, Photographs, Paintings, Sculpture, Silver, Books, Jewelry and iconic New York Memorabilia.

Auctions are often themed and scheduled to coincide with other events in New York. Right now Bonhams has an exhibition called Dogs in Show and Field for an auction featuring only canine focused fine art, a perfect match for the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, also in New York. The auction is happening tomorrow February 18th in New York beginning at 10am, so don’t worry dog lovers you still have time to hit both events.

Seeing auction previews and the auctions themselves is a great way to get a feel for what’s in the market at the moment, the prices and conditions of what is available. Plus, it can be a great way to spend an afternoon.

Here are some interesting auction previews and exhibitions that are coming up:

·         Rockefeller Center and the Rise of Modernism in the Metropolis, Christie’s Private Selling Exhibition, New York

    • On view: 17 January – 25 February 2015

·         Dogs in Show and Field, Bonham’s New York

    • On view: Today, February 17th 10AM-6PM
    • Auction: February 18th 10AM

·         Under the Influence, Phillips New York

    • 23 February – 3 March, 10am-6pm (Sundays 12pm-6pm)
    • Auction: March 4th 11am

·         The New York Sale, Sotheby’s New York

    • On view: 26 March - 31 March, 10AM - 01PM
    • Auction: April 1st, 7PM 

 

 

A Night at Blumka Gallery

The cocktail reception at Blumka Gallery, hosted by Anthony Blumka and Florian Eitle-Böhler on January 27. The night most of Manhattan closed down for the snow blizzard that never happened. Fortunately, that did not keep the die-hard art connoisseurs of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque fine and decorative arts at home.

Open only by appointment, even with a room filled with the art patrons, museum donors, curators, educators, and in this case an appraiser, the gallery space still had a calm and serene museum cathedral-like environment. Just take a look inside one of their vitrines, which could have been as well inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the British Museum.

The Blumka gallery is one of the most important galleries that cater to private clients who collect these centuries old master works. Seen were curators and educators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Collection. The appraiser’s former professors were there who also work at these museums. These art professionals appreciate the well edited works of art that Blumka provides to its patrons, who often donate these works to art museums and institutions.

It was a very enriching and entertaining night even if most of the city was hunkered down at home. At least, we learned something about what the highest aspirations of Western cultural heritage can offer. At Blumka Gallery, you will be rewarded many times over.

Exhibitions in Winter

Susan Teller, Director of Susan Teller Gallery

Susan Teller, Director of Susan Teller Gallery

We attend some exhibitions because we expect to learn something new about art, antiques or various noteworthy collectibles, and some we go to because we hope to be surprised.

 And that’s exactly what happened on Sunday at the newly named “Metro Curates,” a channeling of the Folk Art Show of yesteryear. The slightly off kilter photograph, the eccentric cabinet object, and the amazing folk art object came together for a few days in the Metropolitan Pavilion. New off the drawing board contemporary art seemed somewhat out of place, perhaps because it wasn’t weird enough, but there were plenty of old folk friends who filled that bill.  Also somewhat startling was a wall of early works by William Baziotes at Susan Teller Gallery. Hadn’t seen those before and thought they seemed as far from Baziote’s mature style as does Roy Lichtenstein’s early work differ from his exploding Pop Art images.

Since the Estate of William Baziotes does not permit photographs of his  work on display, we posed Ms. Teller in front of partial images of Hugh Mesnibov and Ann Ryan, whose estates she also handles.

Hours later, at the annual Winter Antiques Show at the 67th Street Armory, the splendor of the best in 18th/19th century furnishings, art and ceramics was revealed. Although the antiques market in general has declined, the Best of the Best never does, whether in fine or decorative art, and there were outstanding artifacts in this fair’s edition. I was particularly impressed by the gorgeous chandeliers and lighting fixtures, and some lovely paintings that fill the eye in the way that empty idea canvases do not. In front of a John Singer Sargent and a Childe Hassam painting are Fran Zeman and Ellen Epstein, both appraisers with ASA and RICS designations, and Alan Adelson, Assistant Director of the gallery founded by his father, Warren Adelson, and notable for work by Sargent and Mary Cassatt. Alan is among a new generation of art dealers to join the ranks of the many sons and daughters of established gallerists.

Fran Zeman , Ellen Epstein and Alan Adelson

Fran Zeman , Ellen Epstein and Alan Adelson

 The Winter Antiques Show runs through much of this week, but if you were lucky enough to get there over the weekend you’ve missed the slough through the snow that lays ahead. Good luck.

 By Elin Lake-Ewald

What to Look for When Collecting Photography (Part II)

On the most basic level, starting a collection in photography requires thought about the type of photography you actually like. Possible categories could include black and white, color, landscapes, nudes, living, vintage, documentary etc. Movements in photography are also good ways to define what you are looking for (Modernism, Pictorialism, War Photography etc). This seems simple but knowing how to define what you like is the first step to making successful purchasing decisions. Each of these different categories or movements will have specific knowledge associated with each.

Deepening your knowledge in these areas will help one develop an “eye.” Having an eye for art can come naturally for some but usually it requires years to perfect and is often difficult to obtain and maintain, even for appraisers.  For this reason seeing accurate documentation on anything you purchase, and keeping accurate documentation yourself - how you obtained it and when, should be a priority. Building a written inventory will ultimately save you a lot of headaches later on should you want to sell, or the work is stolen or damaged.

As art experts for the Public Administrator of New York, who handles estates without a will, we experienced just such an issue. Two senior appraisers from OTE were going through piles of mixed objects removed from the apartments, which included jumbles of furniture, framed artworks, collectibles, libraries and miscellaneous materials. Spread across several work tables, was a huge mass of what appeared to be old Kodak film boxes.

Looking through the meticulously maintained photographs, an anomaly considering the rest of the disheveled apartment, they had inadvertently stumbled upon the work of a real artist. Without OTE the collection of photographs by Harry Shunk and Janos Kender, great documentarians of the Paris/New York art scene in the second half of the 20th century, might never have been discovered.  The director of a major French museum and those of American museums and film societies arrived to review and the Public Administrator was persuaded to set up an auction for the photographs to be sold as one gigantic lot rather than dispersing them overtime. 

Excitingly The Lichtenstein Foundation, thanks to Dorothy Lichtenstein and Jack Cowart, acquired the massive collection at auction for $2 million.   After this the foundation began the collating the collection and set up a system to allocate segments of the collection to many museums worldwide.  The photographs are now considered invaluable in recording the history of major artists of the second half of the 20th century. A triumphant conclusion to what had almost become a treasure lost forever.

 

Feel like a bite? OTE's edible appraisals

A Mayan chief forbids a person to touch a jar of chocolate, (more than a thousand years old, via wikimedia)

A Mayan chief forbids a person to touch a jar of chocolate, (more than a thousand years old, via wikimedia)

In honor of Thanksgiving, a holiday with a distinctly foodie focus, we thought it might be fun to have a blog post dedicated to our experiences with food art.

Unsurprisingly throughout art history food has been the subject of many a painting/ sculpture/print/wood carving, and, let’s be honest every other kind of medium. Recent times have shown that it is more than just a subject. Contemporary artists have transcended merely depicting food to using it. Take Rirkrit Tiravanija’s conceptual installation/performance piece untitled (Free). Originally shown at 303 Gallery in 1992, it was recreated at MoMA as part of the Contemporary Galleries: 1980–Now installation in 2012. The exhibition converted a gallery into a kitchen where the artist served rice and Thai curry, using food as the medium with which to create art and a unique visitor experience. This piece is not alone.  In 1958 during the exhibition The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility, The Void Yves Klein served blue- cocktails to gallery visitors asking them to literally consume the artwork. Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist is well known for his chocolate syrup drawings, one of which was of the Leonardo's ''Last Supper.” 

Chocolate

Chocolate

However, OTE has found that there are some unique challenges for owners of art using material as short-lived as food.

One of OTE’s many memorable appraisals, this case featured an artwork made of white, milk and dark chocolate and ink jet print laid on canvas. The damage was the result of a gust of wind that had caused fragile portions of chocolate to separate completely from the canvas. Sadly, the lost pieces of chocolate were not recovered. This was not the only damage the appraisers discovered. In one corner there was evidence of a mouse having nibbled on the yummy artwork. In this case the artist had intended for the work to “evolve,” which actually allowed for the loss of some of the chocolate and tampering from rodents and other animals. Less cute was the appearance of mold on other parts of the piece. The extent of the damage meant that it would need restoration, and ultimately sustain a substantial loss in value. Restoration required consolidating and re-adhering lifting/peeling areas of the material; unfortunately both costly and time consuming.

Another dilemma au chocolate involved a painting where the artist had stuck M&M’s to canvas, covering them in resin, and using them to dye the surrounding surface. Some of the M&M’s had become damaged (as seen in the picture below) and we had to determine whether this was the result of some sort of accidental damage or whether it was the inherent vice of the materials (i.e. the result of the materials themselves).  Research included some interesting conversations with a confused and curious customer service representative from Mars (the company that owns M&M). From her reaction we gathered that Mars did not often get questions like: what is an optimum temperature for an M&M? How long does the dye on an M&M last? How long would it take an exposed M&M to deteriorate, and what would this be if say the M&M were covered in, hypothetically, something like resin?

Detail of the damaged work

Detail of the damaged work

What we found out was that once you open the bag, Mars pretty much doesn't care what happens to M&M’s and really doesn't like to speculate. What could be extrapolated was that in the bag M&M’s should be stored at around 70 degrees in a cool dry place and that when exposed to heat M&M’s were likely to deteriorate more quickly. Probably, the Mars rep grudgingly admitted, it wasn't a stretch to say that M&M’s were indeed likely to deteriorate naturally over time, even when covered in resin. Following this data collection process, and our examination of the piece it was determined that it was the inherent vice of the M&M’s that was responsible for the loss. Mice, it seems, were not as industrious as our previous case had led us to believe.

If you choose to own something as wonderfully transient as art made with food, expectations of the work should follow accordingly. You may have to face the fact that something wants to eat it.

 

 

Opening Night at the IFPDA Print Fair 2014

Opening night at the Print Fair brought crushing crowds and some amazing power on paper!

 A growing market for early 20th century British printmakers seemed to grow exponentially as several dealer booths focused on displays by Sybil Andrews, CRW Nevinson, Claude Flight, Margaret Barnard, Cyril Edward Power, and Lill Tschude, much admired but scarcely known in the US. Prices ranged from the low $30,000s to over $100,000, so it’s clear that there is as strong market for these vigorously colored linocuts. Kempner Gallery appeared to have the largest selection.

 Equally striking, but in the most subtle of ways, was an unusual series of eight silkscreens by Fred Sandbeck priced at $25,000. Famed for his string sculptures, these prints showed the varied configurations of a structure of strings as if it were in motion. At Diane Villani, publisher.

 At Barbara Krakow was another series of nine geometric black and white silkscreens from a set of ten (I still can’t figure that out), by Sol Lewitt, from 1982, and also priced at $25,000.

 So much to see and so much to remember, but two prints whose images remain with me: an engraving by William Black of Chaucer’s Canterbury Pilgrimage for $60,000 at the Fine Art Society of London, and at Hill-Stone an etching of Death and the Knight, a beautiful impression, for $225,000.

 This year may have brought in the largest group of non-American dealers that I can remember, and certainly a great number of non-New York dealers, a good many from Chicago. Definitely a sense of energy and excitement prevailed, but the increase in prices for prints was discernible. Perhaps, at any price, prints can be made to seem like near giveaways in the light of the  prices at the auction sales currently going on.

Written by Elin Lake-Ewald, Ph.D, ASA, FRICS


Why It Is Important To Insure Your Art

In New York City Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call for many art enthusiasts to insure their art but there is still a lot of uninsured or underinsured art out there. According to Kathryn Tully in 2012 article for Forbes “the premium value of insured art globally was somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion. If those estimates are right, there’s a lot of uninsured art out there.”

Many people have collections of art, or perhaps just one valuable piece but rarely know exactly what they are worth.  It is surprisingly easy for a painting, sculpture or even a more experimental piece of art to be damaged due to some unforeseen event, which is why it is important to be aware of its value. This summer alone there has been a significant amount of flooding in the tri-state area, and this has resulted in thousands of dollars in damages. 

To protect your investment obtaining an appraisal of the retail replacement value means that you will be sure you have the right insurance coverage. The majority of standard home-owners insurance policies have limitations in regards to what can be reimbursed in the event of damage or loss to art and antiques.  So it is a good idea to look closely at your policy if you are not exactly sure what your insurance covers. 

If you are a serious collector you will probably need a more specialized policy tailored specifically to your collection. Insurance companies that are particularly qualified for this are: AXA, Chubb, and AIG.  However, it is still important to be aware of your art’s value as the years progress.

The art market is continually fluctuating which is why it is a good idea to update these appraisals every couple of years. The value of your art will probably change with the shifting market. Unlike other luxury goods, such as a Chanel handbag or a BMW, a work of art is unique and difficult to replace.  This is why using an appraiser who is USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) certified and a member of the ASA, RICS, or ISA, is essential.  An appraisal by a qualified appraiser will be fully researched and legally sound. And always make certain, no matter who the appraiser is, that he or she has the right experience to evaluate the specific piece you own.