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How to Authenticate and Appraise an Artwork


How to Authenticate and Appraise an Artwork

Whether you’re buying or selling an artwork, it is absolutely critical to ensure the art is authentic and priced appropriately. A little precaution here goes a long way in securing the legitimacy of an artwork. Here are some helpful tips for authenticating and appraising an artwork including working with art authentication and appraisal professionals.

Authenticating artwork

Regardless of why you are buying a piece of art, regardless of its price tag, or even if you’re selling a work, its authenticity should always be questioned. Across the mediums of paintings, print or sculpture, art should always be accompanied by documentation. This is also known as provenance and provides the assurance that the work you’re about to acquire is genuine and made by the artist or produced by its foundation. For older works by more established artists, provenance can also confirm an artwork’s authenticity through its past ownership. 

Good provenance provides an undoubted assurance that the work of art is genuine and produced by the artist that is stated, and should always bear their signature. Bad provenance, unfortunately, exists too often, especially at online art auctions due to unscrupulous sellers who claim to have documented ownership histories of fraudulent art. 

Image courtesy of Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

The many forms of provenance 

There are many in ways in which you can verify the provenance of your artwork. The most common form of provenance is with a signed certificate of authenticity. If you’re buying work directly from an artist, getting hold of this signed certificate from them is of utmost importance. If you’re buying through a gallery, make sure they provide you with information about its past ownership on top of the certificate. An original sales receipt from a gallery can also count as provenance. 

For more established artworks, anything from an exhibition sticker attached to it, an appraisal, or documents by recognized experts discussing the work could also suffice as provenance, proving its journey as an artwork over the course of its years. As a rule with artworks of such stature, never bid on or buy them without seeing their provenance first! Good provenance always makes an artwork more desirable and should contain information about its dimensions, mediums, date it was made and its title. After all, knowing a work’s authenticity adds the security that all collectors want. 

Image courtesy of Yahoo News

For the art buyer 

It never hurts to get a second opinion, perhaps someone notable in the field of work. For more established works, getting the artwork appraised by an expert could also secure its legitimacy. Independent experts, art dealers, consultants, and appraisers will be able to help you determine an artwork’s authenticity. The art world can be tough to navigate around unless you’ve been around it for some time, and getting accurate information about an artwork can be tricky. 

If you find yourself going to an expert for authentication, do not merely take a yes or no for an answer. Find out how and why they’ve reached the conclusion of whether or not your artwork is authentic, and question their sources and how they’ve obtained their information. 

For the artist 

Make it a priority to establish yourself at the very start of any provenance. The last thing you want is for people to question whether or not your work is real, which will compromise your reputation as an artist on the market. Keep good documentation of your artwork’s records on hand so that buyers have zero doubts as to whether you created the work at hand. Be sure to provide a certificate of authenticity with every sale, outlining as much information about your work as possible. Make sure that this is consistent across all artworks so that if you’re ever faced with bogus iterations or provenance, you will be able to challenge them effortlessly. 

Image courtesy of The Times 

Appraising an artwork 

The appraisal of an artwork should always be an objective opinion based on specific research criteria. If you’re going to a professional, make sure that you are not going to an art appraiser who buys and sells art as they might have conflicts of interests that may not put your best interests at heart. Unlike items such as your smartphone or computer, it is hard to place a dollar and cent value on an artwork, and working towards accurate provenance might involve tedious research, calculation, and documentation. The two most common ways that art appraisers use in determining your artwork’s authenticity and worth are through its

  • Fair Market Value and
  • Replacement Value. 

While an artwork’s Fair Market Value is a hypothetical number, it is the hypothetical number that establishes demand and the number that buyers and sellers will agree to trade on. It establishes what someone is willing to pay or sell an artwork for, and whether the buyer or seller are well informed about it. 

Replacement Value, primarily used for insurance appraisals, is the amount of money that the owner of the desired artwork will charge on short notice. Unique works of art often find themselves having their Replacement Value based on the retail value of similar work at the time, and it is at this point where an accredited appraiser comes into the picture. This art appraiser must then identify the relevant market, and above all, understand the artist and their style. 

In order to achieve an accurate value of any artwork, an appraiser must have the appropriate education, experience, and understanding of the market, along with access to databases hat examine the behaviors in art market sales. 

Often times, art appraisers have backgrounds in museums and institutions, art historians who have achieved years of research, or even someone with an experienced gallery background who prefer to be independent consultants. 

Here at The Artling, artworks and design items have been carefully hand-picked and vetted by our team. Artworks come with Certificates of Authenticity from the Artist or Gallery. If you are keen on buying original and exclusive art, check out our curated collection of artwork and design.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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