Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Art and its Value – Daryle Lambert's Antiques and Collectibles Blog – Are you sure?

Helpful Hints on Purchasing Art.

There is nothing I would rather do than look at great art, that is unless I could own it. Yesterday, I wrote about the American Pickers and how different we are at the Daryle Lambert's Antiques and Collectibles Club from them. What I meant by that was they deal in items that are rusty or damaged. Because of their many years of experience, they can see value in them. We try to deal in items that are close to mint and need no restoration. After thinking about my statements overnight, I realized that there was an area where we are alike and that is art.

With art we often will find it in mint condition, but what if it isn't? I receive emails from people all the time who want to sell their paintings but don't have any idea of value and hope that I can help them. Yesterday, I received a list of five paintings from a wonderful lady. She wants to sell them but after examining the pictures she sent, I knew that this was going to be a challenge. I spent several hours researching the artist and comparing prices but that was the easy part of my job. You see each painting had multiple problems, just like the items the American Pickers find. So I had to figure out what it would take in time and money to put these pieces in saleable order.

Just to clean a painting properly will cost $100 and up depending on the work required but you can't stop there. Many of these five paintings were going to need in-painting (replacing missing paint) and some may even have damage to the canvas itself. I personally have paid $3000 for the restoration of a single painting so you can see the possible cost that could be involved. Next the question was the frames. They were in horrible shape so did they need to be replaced or, could they be salvaged?

Here is the process that I went through to establish a value for the paintings in their present condition. First, if they were mint what would their values be, and to make the profit required by the rules of our Club, what could I offer for them? Their value could only be established by going to AskArt on the Internet and searching for previous sale by the artist and then cross referencing that through books like Davenport's Price Guide. Second, how much in expenses was I looking at to bring them up to saleable condition? Here I would call the party that does my restorations Baumgartner Fine Art for their estimates. Then, last but not least, does the artist who produced these paintings have an active market for paintings? Auction records and eBay can fill this gap in the equation. It doesn't matter what something is worth if it can't be sold. Remember on the last episode of the Pickers where they ran across a great old automobile but showed no interest in it because that model had very little interest for collectors? After doing all this work, I was ready to share with the lady my ideas of what her paintings are worth.

Just like the Pickers in the last show who bought a scooter that, if restored, would have been a high ticket item because of its rarity. Their intentions were to sell it in the present condition and let the buyer do the restoring. However, it still had to be purchased at a price where money could be made with it in its current condition. They paid $5000 and were told its value as is was $10,000, so they accomplished their goal of compounding their money. This is where we are alike. If we bought the paintings as is, what could we pay for them in their present condition and still double our money?

Most of the time we would be restoring any painting that was purchased to sell, however, there could on occasion be ones we would sell as is. Now you know how we at the Club might be like the pickers on the television show American Pickers. 

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1 comment:

  1. Re: frame condition, in most cases my advice would be not to bother with repairs. Most auction houses, ours included, don't even show the frame in catalogues because it's not material to the work. Frames are a personal choice, and many people will want to re-frame the work they buy. If the frame is original to the piece and might have some historical significance, consult a conservator; otherwise, it's not worth the effort.

    Carrie Hunnicutt
    Fine & Decorative Arts
    Heritage Auctions (
    1-800-872-6467 X1613