Art Appraisal FAQ’s

Office: 402.558.0376


How are art appraisals conducted?

The Appraiser will either travel to the site where the items are located, or examine photos of the items, or use facetime technology to personally examine the pieces if distance is prohibitive.  Each work of art is thoroughly examined, recorded and photographed. After the initial inspection is completed and deposit is paid, Ms. Hackwith conducts extensive market research and analysis before preparing a written report which conforms to the 2018-19 Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice.

How are art or personal property appraisal fees determined?

Professional art or personal property appraisal fees are based on the amount of time involved in the appraisal, not on the assumed value of the property. The entire process of an appraisal includes inspection, measuring, and photographing during the initial inspection; researching and analyzing the work; identifying and researching the appropriate marketplace; and presenting an unbiased independent conclusion of value in a written report. Please see our current rates on the Art Appraisal page.

Why you should use an appraiser with the International Society of Appraisers certification.

An accredited appraiser is formally educated and regularly tested on their appraisal knowledge and methods.  Anyone can say they provide appraisals, but only accredited appraisers have completed this formal and continuing training.

According to ISA’s website, “Whenever there’s a question about the value of your personal property, there’s also a risk involved. It may be the risk of selling too low, or of paying too much; the risk of being under or over insured; the risk of not getting your fair share in a division of the property; the risk of incurring tax penalties or being audited when claiming a deduction for charitable contribution or when calculating estate taxes.

A professional appraiser helps you manage these and other such risks by providing a written opinion of value upon which you can base your financial decisions. Rather than being just an “educated guess,” the professional appraiser’s value conclusions are based on prescribed methods or evaluation, research, and report writing. Bankers, financiers, investors, insurers, adjusters, estate managers, trustees, executors, attorneys, judges, federal and state tax agencies—all are dependent upon the knowledge and expertise of the appraiser, and so are you.”

An accredited appraiser is required for IRS donations over $20,00.00. While it is not necessary to use an accredited appraiser for estate and legal work, it is always prudent to do so.  Accredited appraisers are trained in the government USPAP regulated appraiser protocol and participate in required annual education and two and five year retesting to maintain that accreditation.

What does market research involve?

Identifying the most relevant marketplace for the type of value sought is a key aspect to valuations. Research of the market involves a minimum of three comparable sales, whenever possible, and an understanding of where your object falls and ranks within its particular category, be it form, style or artist’s repertoire.

What other advantages are there to having my art appraised?

For insurance values you will know the proper amount of insurance for coverage.  For equitable distribution for divorce or estate cases you will be assured that the property division is equitable.  For market value appraisal you can anticipate the range of what your art may sell for.

Also, the appraiser will assess the condition, and review the art for damage, stress, and overall condition, as well as provide conservation tips.  Over time, art can deteriorate due to lighting, environmental conditions, and organic materials used in production. Holly Hackwith will recommend trained experts to stabilize, conserve, and/or repair to prevent further deterioration.

How often should my art be appraised?

Appraisals should be updated every 5 years to ensure adequate insurance replacement coverage, up-to-date asset management, and in cases that art has been donated, valid IRS valuation documentation.

What is the difference between insurance replacement value and fair market value?

Insurance replacement value is the cost of replacing the item within the client’s customary method of acquisition.  Generally this would be retail store or gallery.

Fair market value is what a willing seller will sell for and what a willing buyer will pay for an item.

For example this Tron action figure may retail in 2015 for $20.00 from KMart.  That would be the retail replacement value.  However on the open market, say for example at a garage sale in its original, unopened packing this piece may fetch $10.00.  Sometimes retail and market value may be the same.  Many times retail involves the retail profit markup, where the open market price does not.


How much does the average art appraisal cost?

About 3 hours per piece, or $450.00.  This includes the site visit, photography, measurement, data gathering, data entry, photo management, artist bio research, artist recent sales research, market analysis, report writing, value conclusion and conclusion explanation.

Multiple pieces by the same artist would be approximately 3 hours for the first piece and 2 hours for each additional piece by the same artist.

Full Appraisals: Basic research is charged by the hour at $150.00 an hour with a 2 hour minimum.

Expert court testimony is $250.00 per hour, plus $150.00 preparation time, plus $50.00 an hour travel time.

Just curious about what you have? Research in 15 min increments starting at $37.50

Here are some examples of cases that may exceed 3 hours per piece:

  • Forensic art appraisal to find or prove the artist of an unsigned piece.
  • Additional research required for a piece and or artist that has no formal sales records.
  • There are other examples, but each piece is decided on a case by case basis.

Why do you need to know what appraisal is for?

Different appraisal types required different value formula, and may have different value conclusions.


The following are several types of appraisals each for a different need.

  •  Appraisal for Insurance Replacement
  • Appraisal Report for Charitable Donations
  • Appraisals for Estate Distribution
  • Appraisals for Divorce
  • Appraisals for Bankruptcy
  • Appraisals for Asset Management