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Art Appraisals and Legal Issues

By law, an art appraisal protects your art investment.


Art appraisal

An art appraiser examines a valuable painting.

photo (c) Matt Cardy/Getty Images

There are various types of art appraisals and they are not interchangeable, so make sure you select the right one for your purposes such as insurance, income tax, inheritance tax, estate settlement, charitable contribution or selling an art work.

Usually when art is part of an estate or donated it needs to be appraised. When work is lost, stolen or damaged it also needs to be appraised for the resulting lawsuit or insurance claim.

If you have more than one area to cover, then you will need several appraisal reports as each one deals with a separate appraisal question. Make sure your appraisal is current as art values fluctuate, plus you will need to have your insurance coverage adjusted.

IRS and a Court of Law

Written appraisals to be used by the IRS or in court need to adhere and reference the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.

These types of certified appraisals are well researched and documented, providing a narrative analysis after a complete examination of the artwork, comparative studies, consultation with experts and databases, books, archives, etc.

Insurance Coverage

To insure an art work, you will need a certified appraisal which specifies you are the owner of the work, with a detailed description and a specified value of it. The appraisal is conducted by an accredited appraiser, and the certified document acts as assurance you will be reimbursed at the set value in case of loss.

Ethics and Conflict of Interest

Ethics is a major issue in art appraisal as dishonest appraisers could buy up art works that they undervalue and sell them for enormous profits. That is why to achieve certification, appraisers need to take ethics courses and pass difficult exams. Appraisals need to be objective, with no conflict of interest on the part of the appraiser.

Certified Appraisers

Currently, personal property appraisers are not required by law to be regulated. In order to avoid any regrettable decision, choose a certified appraiser from one of the main accrediting bodies: AAA, ASA and ISA. These bodies provide rigorous training and certify their accredited members.

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