11 May 2009

Valuation of art

(By Nalini S Malaviya)

Every art collector, at some point or the other, likes to know the financial worth of his art collection. The monetary valuation of an artwork comes in useful not only in estimating the monetary worth of a collection, but also when art needs to be sold. Again, it forms a crucial element for the purpose of insurance and wherever property assessments have to be done or when estate issues are involved. In such cases it is important to get a fair estimate from an independent source.

Today, when prices have corrected drastically, many people who are attempting to sell their artworks privately have to resort to some kind of a valuation which gives an idea about its current market price. Having a reasonable base price as reference helps the seller in making a prudent decision regarding the sale of the artwork. A valuation may also be necessary when an heir is in doubt about the value of an inherited artwork. Many corporate collections and private individuals as well opt for a valuation of their art collection as it gives an estimate regarding the total financial worth of the collector.

The process of valuation should be done by experts in the field as it is a fairly complex procedure, involving several factors such as, comparison of data of various price points, significance or rarity of the work, condition of the artwork and current market estimates. Incidentally, most auction houses provide this service.

Generally, in case of private sales most people tend to approach either galleries or independent consultants for a fair market evaluation. The important factor here is that one should obtain the services of an expert who is unbiased and has no stake in the financial worth of the artwork.

The Indian art market has grown phenomenally in the last few years and although there is a slowdown at the moment, valuation of art is one field that is bound to see a lot of demand and growth in the near future.

(Published in Financial Times)

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