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What do Art Valuers do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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Art valuers establish value for works of art or collections of art. These art professionals generally have degrees in art history, along with many years of experience in art sales. Commonly, they work for auction houses, valuing art for the purpose of auctions and offering consultation services for a fee. Art valuers also work for insurance companies, art galleries, and museums. This type of work generally requires a willingness to travel as it may be necessary to travel to the art, rather than having the art brought to the valuer.

Typically, an art valuer specializes in a particular type, style, or era of art. For example, some art valuers focus on etchings, or furniture, or porcelains. Others may specialize in medieval art, classical art, modern art, and so forth. Specialization makes an art valuer intimately familiar with every aspect of the area of art he or she focuses on. Art valuers know the history of the art of the period, are familiar with works of art from that period, and know how much other works from that period have fetched at auction at various points in history.

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Art valuers can be called upon to value a specific work of art, or to value an entire collection, in which case they may work with other valuers if a collection contains a broad mix of works of art. They may be involved in the authentication process used to confirm that the art is authentic and to confirm the legalities of ownership. If they are not, during the process of valuing art, they may bring issues to the attention of an art authenticator or consult an authenticator to get more information about a piece of art, as authenticity plays an important role in art valuation.

The art valuer will inspect the art in detail, look at supporting documentation which provides information about the art, and determine what kind of condition the work is in and what sort of work has been done on it, if any. Art valuers consider the era the work is from, who created it, current art values, and a number of other factors, finally arriving at a judgment of value.

Since works of art could be considered priceless and irreplaceable, they are tricky to value. Art valuers usually have different values depending on whether they are assessing potential auction price, probate value for an estate, or insurance value. It is also not uncommon for valuers to differ in their final judgments of the value of a piece, which is why companies tend to prefer using their art valuers to going with the word of another art professional.

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