James St. Lawrence O’Toole established O’Toole-Ewald Art Associates, Inc. (OTE) in 1932 at the height of the Depression. A pioneer in the field of appraising and a founder of The American Society of Appraisers, James O’Toole was born in 1895 in Baltimore, studied at Trinity College in Dublin and spent several years in Europe working for Jacques Seligman & Fils.
During the Second World War he joined the U.S. Army, was stationed in Italy at Vatican City and became a member of the O.S.S, forerunner of the CIA, parachuting into France at one crucial point and evading capture as a spy. Returning to New York and his eponymously named gallery following the war, his clients included members of the European nobility as well as international celebrities in the worlds of society and politics.
By the 1980s Elin Lake-Ewald had become a partner and the firm had offices in Manhattan and Venice, where Mr. O’Toole lived half the year. The firm grew and expanded, morphing into its current status as the largest in-house independent art appraisal firm in the nation.
Over the years OTE has prided itself on its ability to tackle difficult valuation cases that require acute scholarship and innovative approaches to appraisal problems. In particular OTE has handled damage cases involving never before valued items, exemplified by the work done regarding the artifacts at the 9/11 Museum. OTE has also valued the extensive artworks in the estates of Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Arman, Louise Nevelson, Jean-Michel Basquiat, CC Wang, Clement Meadmore and dozens of others.
OTE’s long history has also led to an involvement in community affairs. Throughout the years OTE has provided pro-bono services when we believe justice could be better served by our professional participation.