Choosing an Appraiser - Essential Questions to Ask: Part II

Earlier, we posted Part one of this blog with the first six questions to ask when choosing an appraiser.  Here are the final six questions with their explanations!


As explained in Part I, there are many reasons you might need an appraisal of personal property.  But where to begin?  And how do you know you have the right person to help you?  There is no national licensure requirement for personal property appraisers.  Levels of expertise and years of training vary widely.  So, you simply must ask the right questions in order to find the best person to fit your needs.  Here is the rest of the list with the final six questions that will make choosing the right person a breeze.  

·     I’ve got a client with a full house of various items. Can you handle that? How?

·     How long have you been in business? 

·     May I get a copy of your resume/CV? 

·     What locations/cities do you serve? Are you available for travel?

·     How do you charge for services? What will be the charge for services? 

·     What are my expectations for your services? Walk me through the process….


I’ve got a client with a full house of various items. Can you handle that? How?

As stated above, most well-trained appraisers stick to their area of expertise.   But what if you or your client have a whole house of personal property, with various types of goods and levels of quality?  Should you have to call around and hunt up lots of different appraisers? The simple answer is, no. Experienced appraisers are used to working in teams.   As you are interviewing for the appraisal job you have, tell each appraiser the type of job you have.  Let them help problem solve to get the job done efficiently.  At Signet Art, our goal is to help our clients get their need handled.  Appraisal of an entire estate?  No problem.  We have colleagues who specialize in just about any type of item found in a home.  We have worked as team lead on such appraisals and have also worked as a team member.  We will be happy to organize a team to get every type of item appraised and include all within the same report.  We will work with only the best-trained.  The qualifications of any proposed team member can be discussed with you in advance. Their Professional Profiles will be include along with my own in the appraisal report.   


How long have you been in business? 
This is an important question.  You want to know that the person you choose is a solid business person, with years of experience under their belt. 


May I get a copy of your resume/CV? 
Absolutely!  Please peruse it and ask any questions on your mind.  Compare with other potential candidates.  If someone you speak to waivers at all on this question, best to move on.  


What locations/cities do you serve? Are you available for travel?
Most appraisers generally serve a given geographic area for most of their work.   Within that geographic area, charging for travel time is rare.  But outside the normal area of service, there may be travel charges.   At Signet Art, we serve all of the north Texas metroplex, Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding communities.  We also regularly get called to some fairly far-flung areas.  I am happy to travel for inspections wherever the art is. Many times, there are no well-trained appraisers in a given geographic region.  Other times, our clients own more than one home and need appraisals at each location.  Such appraisals are better done at the same level of expertise.   Out-of-pocket expenses for travel do apply.  We do our best to keep travel costs at a minimum and provide documentation for out-of-pocket expenditures.   When the importance of the collection warrants, much is to be gained by hiring the best trained appraiser. 



How do you charge for services? What will be the charge for services? 
Good appraisers are (or should be) independent business owners, not the employee of a gallery that sold you the art or an auction house that is culling for items to sell in the future.  Such independence insures unprejudiced valuations.   Most appraisers charge an hourly fee for onsite inspection, research and report writing time.  Some do charge for travel time on all projects but most do not have such charges in their local service area.  Although it is not considered unethical, charging a flat-fee per piece is uncommon. Charging a percentage of the valuation amount based on the outcome is a clear violation of USPAP rules and is unethical.  So, avoid anyone who is paid in that way.  It is considered a violation of ethics for individual appraisers to openly discuss their hourly fees with one another since that might lead to a form of price-fixing.   However, you will likely find a similar per-hour range if you interview several appraisers in a given area.  Normally, the hourly fees for those with the most experience will be slightly higher than less-experienced colleagues.   The lower rates for less experienced appraisers are meant to entice potential clients with a lower hourly rate.  Does this mean that the overall cost of the appraisal will be lower with a less experienced appraiser?  Not at all! The scope of a project depends not only on the number of items involved but the level of research and level of due diligence required.  One appraiser might allocate two hours to a particular task while it takes another half that time.  The final invoice from a less experienced appraiser might be well above that of a more experienced colleague whose hourly rate is slightly higher. 


So what is the best solution for you, a potential client? Well-trained appraisers do not normally have the time to come out and look over a potential project in order to give a bid on the work.   Our desks are already full of paid work that needs to be completed on time for current clients. We are happy to discuss our hourly rates with a potential client. However, unless we can be very certain of the scope of a given project, we are unable to estimate the final cost of the appraisal.  Since no one likes open-ended invoices,  I am happy to quote an expected range of hours for project completion once the onsite inspection is complete.   I will discuss with you the number and type of pieces included in the appraisal and give an ‘x-y’ range of hours for completion of the project.  Our hours will not exceed that onsite quote unless there is some unforeseen expansion of the scope of the project.   


What are my expectations for your services? Walk me through the process….
The appraisal process starts with you choosing us for the job.  The phone interview allows you to get all your questions answered and for the Signet Art team to get the basic information we need in order to understand your appraisal need.  We will establish your intended use for the appraisal, the person/s to whom the appraisal will be written, location/s of the items to be appraised, etc.  While on the phone, we will establish whether we will need to draw up a contract or not. Our larger projects are often done under contract.  However, we do have some clients who prefer working on a verbal/ handshake agreement. If the project is small enough and both parties are amenable, we work that way.  We have the luxury of choosing the highest quality clients and assume we are being chosen for our excellent reputation. So, contract or not, we will have an understanding with our clients by the end of this phone conversation. Onsite time is scheduled at a mutually convenient time, taking into account your best estimate of the number of items to be appraised.   The inspection time will start with a brief walk-through in order to familiarize me with the location of items and give you a chance to ask any questions that have come to mind.   Once the walk-through is complete, I will start my onsite inspection.  You are free to go about your tasks.  I do request that if you do have a file containing receipt and other salient information about the items, please have that available for inspection.   I bring an iPad and can take quick images of any information that would be helpful during the valuation process.  When finished with the inspection, I will let you know how many items I documented and will give you an estimate for completing the appraisal.   I will also be able to let you know when to expect delivery of the report.   Normal turn-around time is 2-3 weeks.  But that can vary based on the number of appraisals on my desk and other factors.  


Wrapping up…

In choosing an appraiser, you want to have confidence that the person is fully capable to appraise the type of pieces you need appraised.  You also want to be comfortable working with the person.   So, ask yourself, did I get my questions adequately answered? If I choose this person to work with, am I confident of their skills and professionalism?  Visit the appraiser’s website to familiarize yourself with their business, the way they present themselves.  Ultimately, if you ask the right questions, you will find the person best suited to you and your appraisal need. 

Choosing an Appraiser—Essential Questions to Ask: Part I

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There are many reasons you might need an appraisal of personal property.  Your insurance agent has suggested that you need your art or jewelry appraised in order to put them under rider coverage.  Your client with the large estate has just died and her personal property must be appraised.   Your client is going through a nasty divorce and distribution of personal property might be contentious.  You just moved across the country and your favorite painting arrived with a gash through the canvas.  Your client has a large collection of art and wishes to include the art in a trust for his heirs.  These are just a few of the reasons one might need to find a well-trained personal property appraiser.  But where to begin?  And how do you know you have the right person to help you? There is no national licensure requirement for personal property appraisers.  Levels of expertise and years of training vary widely.  So, you simply must ask the right questions in order to find the best person to fit your needs.  Here is a list of the first six questions that will make choosing the right person a breeze.  

·     To what Appraisal Organization/s do you belong?

·     What is your level of membership / accreditation in these organizations? 

·     What’s USPAP? Why is that important?

·     What types of pieces do you routinely appraise? 

·     For what types of pieces would you be considered the ‘go-to’ expert? Why? 

·     How much experience do you have with ….(Insert genre, era or artist’s name here)?

To what Appraisal Organization/s do you belong?
There are three national organizations that train and accredit Personal Property Appraisers.  They are the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and American Association of Appraisers (AAA).  Each of these has a website with a “Find an Appraiser” tab.  You can search by location or by type of material to be appraised.   Any appraiser you would consider hiring should be a member in good standing of at least one of these organizations and should at least be “accredited” with that organization, not an affiliate or candidate member.  As to any other appraisal or auctioneer’s organizations that might be mentioned… be wary of these!  The need to appear credible has spawned many  “Founding Members of the Southern Belles Appraisal Society” or “Certified Members of the Auctioneers of the Northeast.”  ISA/ ASA/ AAA –these organizations train their members and require them to abide by a Code of Ethics that is meant to protect YOU, our clients.  Most other organization names are paper-only ways to pad credibility.  

What is your level of membership / accreditation in these organizations? 
Each of the three personal property appraisal organizations has its own approach to training and accrediting their members.   So, when you are interviewing a potential appraiser ask them to explain what their particular level of membership means within that organization.   For instance, I am a Certified Member of the International Society of Appraisers.  That is the highest level of accreditation offered.  That means that, at a minimum, I have been in the business for five years, have an undergraduate college degree, have taken and passed three core courses on valuation, have taken and been tested in a specialty field study area (Fine Art), have passed a certification exam, have passed a peer vetting of my appraisal reports, stay up-to-date with USPAP training and agree to abide by  ISA’s Code of Ethics and Report Writing Methodology.   To keep this certification, I must requalify every five years.   All of this training means that I have the right to use ‘ISA CAPP’ with my signature.   When you are evaluating who to choose, ask their level of accreditation and the meaning of that level.  


What’s USPAP? Why is that important?
USPAP is an acronym for the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. The Appraisal Foundation was formed in the aftermath of the late 1980’s Savings and Loan Debacle, which bogus land appraisals did much to promulgate. That crisis finally built the impetus to set standards that constitute legitimate rules of ethics and working methodology for those who hold themselves out to be appraisers.  Working to USPAP standards of professional conduct should be a minimum requirement for hiring an appraiser.  The standards include the need for the appraiser to have no financial interest in the outcome of the valuation.  An appraiser must be independent and must certify that they were not paid for any specified result.   Gone should be the days when the jewelry store or art gallery that sold you the piece “guaranteed it would appraise for more than you paid.” 

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 What types of pieces do you routinely appraise? 
This question gets to the heart of finding the correct appraiser for the type of collection you need appraised.   Appraisers are generally broad-based.  A jewelry appraiser would normally handle all appraisals of items with precious metals and stones.  This sort of appraiser would need certification from GIA or one of the other jewelry organizations to qualify since identification of various precious stones is a requirement.  Residential Contents appraisers routinely handle all the furniture, rugs and decorative items that are normally encountered in a home.  Fine Art appraisers normally handle all paintings, prints, photographs, drawings, sculpture, tapestries and art glass.  Within residential contents appraisers and fine art appraisers, there are some overlaps.   Some residential contents appraisers will handle the lower-value fine art objects.  Some fine art appraisers also include silver and decorative art objects in their normal course of business.   Ask the appraiser you are interviewing to discuss what is the norm for their work.  This is especially the case when the collection you want appraised is a specialty field.   If you own a large collection of comic books, a collection of old master prints or a collection of Asian art, you may need a specialty appraiser who has deep knowledge of that specific type of item.  


For what types of pieces would you be considered the ‘go-to’ expert? Why?
Appraisers generally stick to given field of appraisal –Jewelry, fine art, household contents.  But beyond that, every appraiser may have developed a type of item for which they have a deeper knowledge level.  These normally develop because of natural interest or deeper exposure to that area.   For instance, a good collection of Asian art would benefit from an appraiser who specializes in that field, not a generalist.   However, if the bulk of your collection is European and American art but you have a few Asian items, the most efficient approach might be to have the whole collection appraised by one person who can take notes and photos for the Asian works and get valuation help from a colleague.   

How much experience do you have with ….(Insert genre, era or artist’s name here)?
I am often asked, “Have you ever heard of ‘Insert Artist’s Name?’” Many times, of course, I know the names well and am happy to discuss the state of the market for that artist’s work.   After 30 years in business, I have appraised art by hundreds of different artists.  However, if the name doesn’t initially ring a bell, I just let the caller know that the name is not familiar.  This type of question used to intimidate me.  I would wrack my brain trying to associate the name with a visual memory of the work.   It used to embarrass me if a name was mentioned that did not jog a memory.  However, after years of such phone inquiries that were followed by seeing the work in person, I discovered that many times there was a very good reason that I was not cognizant of the name.  Not all signed works lead to a known artist.   I discovered on examination that the legible signature was attached to a clearly amateur effort in paint.   So, if you ask about knowledge of a given artist, be aware that an appraiser’s familiarity with that artist or lack of such familiarity might not be a reason to disqualify the person from the appraisal you need.  On the other hand, if most of your collection consists of Hudson River School painters, Impressionists, early Taos School, Old master prints, etc., you may want to ask about particular familiarity with or expertise in the field.  

Wrapping up… 
In choosing an appraiser, you want to have confidence that the person is fully capable to appraise the type of pieces you need appraised.  You also want to be comfortable working with the person.  So, ask yourself, did I get my questions adequately answered?  If I choose this person to work with, am I confident of their skills and professionalism? Visit the appraiser’s website to familiarize yourself with their business, the way they present themselves. Ultimately, if you ask the right questions, you will find the person best suited to you and your appraisal need. 

Stay tuned and keep an eye out for part two of this blog with the final six questions you need to ask when choosing an appraiser!

Baker Schorr Fine Art

Last Thursday I was scheduled for a day trip to Midland, TX for an estate appraisal.  When my dear friend, Judy Jackson, the doyenne of estate sales in Midland, found out I would be in town, she insisted I stay the night in order to attend the opening of a new show at a fairly new gallery in town, Baker Schorr Fine Art.   What a fine opportunity to spend time with a good friend and check out a new gallery!  

Kathryn Schorr standing with Judy Jackson in front of “Among Friends” by James McDougal Hart

Kathryn Schorr standing with Judy Jackson in front of “Among Friends” by James McDougal Hart

Baker Schorr Fine Art opened its doors November, 2018.  The Director is Kathryn Schorr, an elegant and welcoming person whose good taste and charm is evident from the moment one enters the door.  The gallery space is broad, well-lit and dotted with just a few items of furniture, giving the viewer a chance to sit and contemplate a favorite painting or imagine it in their own home. The gallery’s focus is Post-Impressionist and Modern art.  The new show, “American Sublime: Sacred Landscapes of the Hudson River School,” is an attempt to introduce her patrons to the beauty and glory of traditional 19th C. American landscapes.  Showing one of the best-known schools of American landscape artists might not seem so ground-breaking (pun intended) until one considers that since the stock market crash of mid-2008, collectors’ tastes shifted decidedly away from all things traditional and toward modern and contemporary art.  While values in modern and contemporary art have grown steadily since that time, values for almost all 19th C. and earlier artwork and furnishings have continued to sink.  The finest of antique furnishings have been relegated to the “brown furniture”  category.  Prices for even the best-known 19th C. and earlier paintings are much lower than they were in 2007.  

It is so refreshing to see the highest quality Hudson River School landscapes being given center stage again.  Let’s face it, tastes are cyclical and the hot pursuit of everything nonobjective is in its 11th year.  I have been watching for signs of a resurging interest in traditional art and furnishings.  I spoke briefly with Ms. Schorr about the show and about collectors’ interests in traditional works.   We both agreed that there are signs of the market shifting that direction.   Also, the fact that values for traditional paintings have come down decidedly in the last decade means the current prices for such high quality paintings are a bargain.  

The current show will only be at Baker Schorr until August 3rd.   If you live anywhere near the Permian Basin, you should definitely check out these paintings while they are available and on view at the gallery.  I wish the very best to Ms. Schorr in this new gallery.   As someone who has been making regular trips to Midland for artwork appraisals for many years, I know the locals do love to collect great art but they often acquire pieces in far-flung locations.  Midland needs to develop a lively local gallery scene and Baker Schorr Fine Art is a great start.

Four Costly Mistakes Collectors Make

Buying from Unreliable/Shady Sources 

I strongly suggest avoiding such art-selling venues as eBay, cruise ships, travelling hotel art auctions and late-night television art auctions.  Generally speaking, the products sold in these venues ranges from ‘decorative-only’ reproductions to outright fraudulent items.  There are exceptions, of course.  Not all that is sold online is bad.  But, unless you are a seasoned collector who has deep knowledge of what you are buying, the combination of your naivete and the fly-by-night dealer’s incentive to sell you high-priced wall décor using trumped-up or tricky descriptions is a bad combination.  These venues offer none of the advantages a good dealer offers collectors… knowledge, in-person examination, etc. 

Collecting art is a learning process.   One does not develop connoisseurship on the sidelines.   The world of art is fascinating and has its own lingo. That can be intimidating and it can be a minefield for the uninitiated. I always suggest that prospective collectors spend time learning about art, going to openings, asking lots of questions from reliable dealers, looking, looking, looking.  It might be wise to start collecting with good brick-and-mortar gallery dealers that have been in business for many years.  Whether your area of interest is contemporary or traditional, you will find such dealers in most major cities.  Go to gallery night openings.  Meet artists or go to experts’ lectures hosted by the galleries.  Go to vetted outdoor art fairs where the artists are there to meet and buy from directly.  All of these activities are fun and put you in the same room with the art and with experts who adore talking about art.   You see the works in person…see the surface, the scale, different media, different styles and price ranges.  You get a chance to figure out what style you like and ask questions from dealers who care about their reputations and who will answer any questions you have, dealers who represent a stable of living artists or dealers who have storerooms of art in their inventory. 

Relying on Certificates of Authenticity

I cringe a bit whenever a new client proudly mentions that all the pieces in their collection have Certificates of Authenticity.   A COA is a piece of paper provided  by the print publisher or gallery to the buyers of each print.   At their best, these are documents that accurately state the print’s title, artist, medium, number in this edition, a breakdown of the tirage-the total number of prints made and how they were marked, publication date, publisher’s name and other salient information about the print.  At their worst, these documents are written with tricky and/or inaccurate information and are provided to naive buyers in order to paint a layer of respectability and security over the sale of fraudulent or ‘decorative-only’ reproductions by well-known artists.   

**Note: Certificates of Authenticity are not the same thing as a Letter of Authenticity provided by the recognized and accepted expert or panel of experts on a given artist.  A Letter of Authenticity might be requested by a collector from such an expert when there is some question of the authenticity of a piece. These can be time-consuming and expensive to obtain and are only necessary in a limited number of cases.  Another topic for another time. 


Buying “Celebrity”

I call this a costly “mistake” because in the course of many years in the business, I have been on the selling end of these pieces and have seen the frustration of collectors when the realization hits them that the artwork in their collections will only bring a tiny percentage of the amount of money they spent.   That being said, if you like to go to well-publicized events at galleries in Hawaii or Las Vegas and have your picture taken with an actor who has taken up painting, then go for it.   However, if the actor’s work is exclusively carried at one gallery, be aware that what you are buying is a nice memento of a celebrity appearance. The same can almost always be said of artists whose work is sold through their own chain of galleries.   The high prices can only be sustained as long as the galleries are being run and the gallery staff has been given an updated price sheet from which to quote. Since the artists are exclusive with one gallery, if a client wants to buy new work, the price is whatever the gallery quotes.  However, these galleries are not interested in the secondary market at all.  They have new products to sell.  Should you decide to offer any pieces from your collection for sale, you will generally be hard-pressed to find a venue to do so.   When the actor dies and can no longer make those appearances that drove the pricing, the value is likely to plummet.  Getting 10% of the original purchase price from an online auction is the likeliest scenario.   

Not Engaging an Independent Guide/Consultant/ Appraiser Soon Enough

I was recently called to a new client’s home to do the onsite inspection for an insurance appraisal.  Insurance companies normally require an independent appraisal of artwork prior to the owner taking rider coverage on the works.  This appraisal’s purpose is to provide an independent inventory, report of current condition and estimate of the cost to replace the artwork with comparable pieces should losses occur.    I had been told that he had a collection of 40-50 items needing appraisal.   Sadly, what I encountered was a large collection of expensively framed reproductions by well-known artists.   Since the value of art itself was essentially poster level, my advice to the client was that he should not engage my services for an appraisal. I charge hourly fees and I could not, in good conscience, ask this potential client to pay for the time it would take to photograph, describe and list a value for these pieces. 

By the way, each of the pieces in this collection came with a Certificate of Authenticity (See Above) and each of these COAs was written with language specifically intended to deceive the buyer.  Had he called me after only a few purchases,  a few short connoisseurship “lessons” would have saved all the subsequent expenditures.   

Collecting art should be engaging, fun and fulfilling. But finding out that you have been duped can be infuriating, especially since in many cases, refunds are difficult or impossible to obtain. We at Signet Art are at your service! Let us be your guide to collecting great art. We help our clients buy well, sell well, appraise accurately and avoid costly mistakes. 

“Appraising in the World of the High-Net-Worth Client”

I spent two days last week in a seminar sponsored by ISA dealing with the specialized needs of High-Net-Worth Individuals. The speakers were representatives of various businesses who offer services targeted for this class of clientele and who coordinate getting their appraisal needs met. As you might imagine, this small percentage of the population makes up a considerable proportion of our clientele at Signet Art; we work with individuals, museums, attorneys, shipping companies, insurance carriers and adjusters. Although we are available to help individuals with their questions about art of any value and collections of any size, our larger projects come from those who have been collecting for some time and have amassed a collection of considerable size and value. Collectors in this category are going to need more services and often very different services than the average collector. 

Perrie Guthrie, Kathryn McGill, Brenda Simonson-Mohle, Barbara Chamberlain, Kim Kasten

Perrie Guthrie, Kathryn McGill, Brenda Simonson-Mohle, Barbara Chamberlain, Kim Kasten

Some High-Net-Worth Individuals want to use their money to benefit future generations. Our first speaker decided to do just that. J.P. Bryan is a life-long collector of books, Texana and western art. Western history is a deep passion of his and he began to collect in the area as far back as his college days at the University of Texas in Austin. He decided several years ago to make his fabulous collection available to the public. In 2013, he purchased the historic building that had been the Galveston Orphans home for almost 100 years. In 2015, after two years of restoration and renovation, the Bryan Museum opened to the public. Mr. Bryan and Joan Marshall, the Director of the Museum, were the first speakers at our seminar. Mr. Bryan spoke about his passion for the various collections and the importance of maintaining the love of art.  Ms. Marshall spoke about some of the challenges unique to housing a museum in an historic building not purpose-built for that use, including security of the art, adequate storage facilities and other challenges that arose while transforming a former orphanage into a modern museum. The collection uses both fine art and the collectibles of daily life to tell the history of Texas and western expansion. If you haven’t visited the Bryan Museum, plan a trip to Galveston soon!

Bryan Museum  (Interior and Exterior Views)

Bryan Museum (Interior and Exterior Views)

Rebecca Lawton, a longtime curator at the Amon Carter Museum, discussed the role of a curator in working with potential donors to a museum and connecting donors with appraisers qualified to provide the appraisals needed for a charitable donation deduction

Abigail Rosen, an attorney with Winstead PC-Dallas, TX, whose practice focuses on tax litigation, gave a primer on communication and record keeping that will preserve attorney-client privilege and the importance of including all the IRS-stipulated requirements in an appraisal so the timeframe of the statute of limitations is not extended for noncompliance.  

Michael Brandstetter and Dan Rockwell of Displays Fine Art Services gave us some insights on all the services they offer that cover the logistics of owning, shipping, storing and displaying fine art. When a work is purchased, it must be packed, shipped and safely installed at the collector’s home. When items are sent for auction, the same services are needed.  Seasoned collectors realize that their pieces are at their highest risk while being moved and installed and insist such services be handled by specially-trained professionals. Displays FAS also has a large warehouse space for collections storage. As an appraiser, I have become very familiar with DFAS and a few of their competitors since my clients often have items professionally stored with them. I am always grateful for the professionalism toward the art and courtesies shown to me when I need to do an inspection for a client or arrange for packing and shipping.  

Displays Fine Art Services has become the go-to business for dealing with monumental sculpture. They have years of experience in the area and handle all the needs for the Nasher collection and the Nasher Sculpture Center. These include transportation and installation of sculptures, onsite restoration and repairs, storage of items and more.

Day two of the seminar started out with Dulany Howland, President of Howland Advisory LLC, giving an introduction to working with family offices. The term ‘family office’ was coined in the 1950’s when wealthy families first began to set up their own private offices to handle all the business and investment matters for various generations of family members.  Family offices handle the business affairs, investment needs, tax filings and personal needs of wealthy families. In addition to private family offices, a hybrid has sprung up in the last 30 years, a multiple family office. Advisory firms, such as Mr. Dulany’s, offer family office services to a small group of clients and their families. Such advisors need a wide-ranging background that includes financial knowledge, business acumen, incredible people skills and a list of the best-qualified service providers in any field where their clients might need services. I have worked with a client of Mr. Dulany who had a fabulous collection of contemporary art and enjoyed hearing him describe his role with his clients.

Monica Egert Smith ( Communities Foundation ) and Dulany Howland ( Howland Advisory Group )

Monica Egert Smith (Communities Foundation) and Dulany Howland (Howland Advisory Group)

Monica Egert Smith represented the Communities Foundation and spoke about its role as a donor-advised charitable fund. Donor advised funds allow High-Net-Worth Individuals to easily contribute large amounts to a charitable fund, invest the fund for growth and set up a granting plan for the various organizations and causes they care about.  Personal Property Appraisers are occasionally needed because some individuals wish to donate their treasured collections to charitable organizations through the Communities Foundation

Dulany Howland ( Howland Advisory Group ) and Alan Davis ( Meadows Collier  Attorney at Law)

Dulany Howland (Howland Advisory Group) and Alan Davis (Meadows Collier Attorney at Law)

Alan Davis, an Attorney and CPA with Meadows Collier, who specializes in helping HNWIs set up trusts, does their estate planning and estate settlement, quickly reviewed case law regarding personal property includable in a person’s estate. There are different reasons an attorney representing a HNWI might need an appraisal on behalf of their client.  A well-trained appraiser needs to know the intended use of the appraisal and needs to prepare the appraisal using IRS-required standards so that a deduction of taxes for a charitable gift is not disallowed and so that estate or trust matters are settled in a timely fashion.  

Greg Morse of Worthington National Bank spoke to the group about banks that loan money using art collections as collateral.  Such banks are rare in Texas but have become fairly commonplace in New York.   When called to work on such leveraging of art for cash, an appraiser needs to be savvy enough to understand the type of value being sought—usually marketable cash value or orderly liquidation value, and needs to be completely independent from either party.  Mr. Morse’s talk was a good introduction of the topic. 

Barbara Chamberlain ( AIG )

Barbara Chamberlain (AIG)

The final speaker for the seminar—last, but certainly not least, was Barbara Chamberlain of AIG. Ms. Chamberlain is the Director of Collection Management. From that lofty position, she helps HNWIs look at the safety of their collections and insurance needs. She works with families that have multiple homes and routinely move their jewelry, their artwork and other personal items between locations. While most homeowners carry insurance on their homes that includes a small percentage of coverage for personal property, HNWIs may need to add Private Collections Insurance.  Such coverage is much more comprehensive protection against loss.  It usually covers natural disasters such as windstorm, earthquake, etc.  Diminution of value is also covered. 

So, if there is a damage claim and repairs have been completed, an assessment is made whether there has been a loss of value due to the damage, in that case compensation can be made. There is usually no deductible and some policies offer up to 150% payments of the value stated on the policy if the value had appreciated since the last appraisal. 

High-Net-Worth Individuals have more complex financial needs than the average person.  A whole industry of various providers has grown up around serving those needs.  With 25+ years of experience as a fine art appraiser and the highest level of accreditation, I am often called in to meet the appraisal needs of such individuals.  It is always a pleasure and privilege to be of service whenever we get that call.  This seminar was time well spent, networking with the best and deepening my knowledge of how to be of service. My approach to life and to business is ABL/ ABS…Always Be Learning/ Always Be Serving!  


A few of the fine Appraisers of  NTISA

A few of the fine Appraisers of NTISA

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