How to Value Art

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The process of valuing art can be distilled down to nine factors:

Authenticity: first and foremost, is the artwork real?

Rarity: like all markets, the value of art is tied to the first law of economics – supply and demand. A rare work that’s in demand is highly valuable.

Condition: works that are in the closest possible condition to its original state are the most highly prized.

Provenance: this is the sales history. If the work was owned by a particularly important collector then it will be far more desirable. For instance, this could include a ‘celebrity’ figure, such as David Bowie, or individuals with celebrated taste, such as Peggy and David Rockefeller.

Historical Importance: a work from a particularly significant period of the artist’s life, or connected to a wider historical context, is more valuable.

Medium: the artwork’s materials make a difference. As a general rule in paintings, oils will be more valuable than watercolours, which are in turn more valuable than pencil or charcoal drawings, which are more valuable than prints.

Size: traditionally, extremes can de-value an artwork: too big or too small, on a practical level, can be problematic.

Subject Matter: an iconic or immediately recognisable subject associated with the artist will be more desirable and consequently valuable, such as Warhol’s Marilyn. Conversely, a particularly challenging subject, such as one containing extreme violence for instance, is generally far less likely to appeal to collectors.

Quality: this is the most subjective of all the factors – namely does the work have that certain je ne sais quoi that gives it an irresistibility.

Ultimately, it is the combination of these factors that will determine the price of an artwork. At Mintus, we take all of these elements into consideration, alongside comparable sales at auction to determine the value of our offerings. Recent sales of artworks, either from the same series, or of a similar size, date of creation, medium (material), appearance and subject are used to determine an appropriate valuation. We also get a third-party appraisal from leading art industry experts for each artwork offering, which is accessible on the platform.

If you have any further questions about valuation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at [email protected].

*Image courtesy of Tomasso Brothers Fine Art, TEFAF 2018.

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