The Business of Art: Markets, Auctions, Appraisals, Galleries: Art Appraisals

An introduction to resources for the buying and selling, the pricing and valuing of art.


The popularity of television programs such as Antiques Roadshow where expert appraisers delight owner by providing an extensive analysis of an object along with its current market value has invigorated this industry. Appraisals have always been necessary for insurance coverage, charitable contributions, IRS deductions, equitable distribution of assets in a divorce or separation, estate taxes, and establishing re-sale valuations. Now there are myriad examples of online appraisals by so-called experts who, for a fee, will examine a photo of an object and offer a valuation. 

Looking at the sale prices for similar works of art provide some guidance in determining value but condition, rarity, and market demand are also critical factors. A credible art or antique appraiser will have not only extensive knowlege of the market but also be knowledable about the object and its maker. The process of becoming an accredited or certified art appraiser takes a minimum of three years experience. Membership in one of the appraisal organizations recognized by the IRS involves an extensive background and reference check plus completion of courses and passing an exam.   

Appraisal Organizations

Consider finding an appraiser to determine the value of your artwork. Appraisers are trained specialists who work for a fee. They evaluate your piece and give you a written statement of its value. Although the following organizations do not provide appraisals themselves, they each publish a directory of their members. Always seek an appraiser with an expertise in the type of artwork that you own.

American Society of Appraisers, 555 Herndon Parkway South, Suite 125, Herndon VA 20170, 703-478-2228 or 1-800-ASA-VALU. The American Society of Appraisers is an organization of appraisal professionals and others interested in the appraisal profession. International in structure, it is self-supporting and independent. The oldest and only major appraisal organization representing all of the disciplines of appraisal specialists, the society originated in 1936 and incorporated in 1952.

Appraisers Association of America, 386 Park Avenue South, Suite 2000, New York NY 10016, (212) 889-5404. The oldest Non-Profit professional association of personal property appraisers. Recognize authority for setting appraisal standards, legal issues and regulation of the appraisal profession. Certified members provide appraisals for fine and decorative arts, jewelry, and household contents.

Appraisal Foundation, 1155 15th Street NW, Suite 1111, Washington, DC 20005, 202-347-7722.The Appraisal Foundation, a not-for-profit educational organization dedicated to the advancement of professional valuation, was established by the appraisal profession in the United States in 1987. Since its inception, the Foundation has worked to foster professionalism in appraising.

Art Dealers Association of America Art Appraisals, 205 Lexington Avenue, Suite #901, New York, NY 10016, 212 488 5530. For more than 45 years, the ADAA Appraisal Service has appraised works of art for tax purposes. The service has been used by collectors and museums to determine the value of important works of art from old master paintings to contemporary art installations. ADAA appraisals have an outstanding acceptance record with the IRS and are known for their professional quality.

International Society of Appraisers, 1131 SW 7th St Suite 105, Renton, WA 98055, (206) 241-0359. Not-for-profit, member-driven association, formed to support our member needs and serve the public by producing highly qualified and ethical appraisers who are recognized authorities in professional personal property appraising. Our members include many of the country's most respected independent appraisers, consultants, estate liquidators, auctioneers, gallery owners, and dealers.

Regional Art Appraisers

This list of individuals and businesses does not constitute an official endorsement by KU Libraries.

Burton I. Dunbar, 8340 Mission Road, Suite 235, Prairie Village, KS 66206. 800-395-9863. Offers a single, comprehensive service for fine and decorative art appraisals and marketing advice. Member of Appraisers Association of America.

Patricia J. Graham, 1641 Rhode Island St., Lawrence, KS 66044, 785-841-1477. Asian art research and appraisals. Member of the Appraisers Association of America.

Madison Group Fine Art Appraisals, 200 East 30th St., Kansas City, MO 64108. 888 201-9049. Specializing in Fine Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Antiques, Decorative Arts, and Furniture. Member of Appraisers Association of America.

Janet G. Smith, PO Box 45102, Omaha, NE 68145, (402) 320-1239. Focus is art authentication. We research your art using academic, scientific, and other techniques. We provide certified fine art appraisals and art consulting. Member of the International Society of Appraisers.