In December 2013, the Christie’s auction house team of expert appraisers gave their estimation on a small fraction of the Detroit Institute of Fine Art’s amazing art collection. As appraisers are wont to do, they gave each painting a high and low estimate of what they agree the works should be currently valued at. It seems that the selected works are believed to be worth in total between 454,000,000 and 867,000,000 USD.
Are you curious as to which paintings were appraised and why? Well, the paintings that were chosen include works by Henri Matisse (The Window, 1916), John Singer Sargent (Home Fields, c.1885 and Mosquito Nets,1908), Claude Monet (Gladioli, c.1886), Vincent van Gogh (Self Portrait with Straw Hat, 1887) and Edgar Degas (Dancers in the Green Room, c.1879), to name a few of the more modern artists. The earlier century artworks were not left out though, and so paintings by Jan van Eyck (St Jerome in His Study, c. 1435), Pieter Bruegel the Elder (The Wedding Dance, c. 1566), Rembrandt van Rijn (The Visitation, 1640) and Jacopo Tintoretto (The Dreams of Men, Mid-16th Century) were a part of the tally.
Not all of the artworks were by artists with household names, and statues and other carvings were included. An incredibly detailed solid ivory Knife case and lid from an unknown artist in Congo, Africa was appraised at near 1,000,000 USD, and a thousand-year old copy of a Roman statue of Apollo, just the torso, mind you, was estimated with a high of 2,500,000 USD. From the Orient came Sakyamuni Emerging from the Mountains, a remarkable Chinese statue dated late 13th/ early 14th Century, with a valuation of 500,000 to 1,000,000 USD.
It’s always a good idea to have your artwork appraised every so often, for a number of reasons. The price of an individual work of art can vary over time, like a publicly traded stock or real estate, and knowing the value of what you have and choosing the right time to sell it is very important. Another reason to have your artwork evaluated is to have it insured, just as you would insure your valuable property, against theft and destruction. The higher the price tag on a work of fine art, the more important it is to have it authenticated, especially if you don’t want to have to take your insurance company to court when you have to make a claim for its loss. You should know that it’s a lot easier and cheaper to have your artwork appraised than it is to find a reputable expert to authenticate it, but authentication for artworks under $10,000 is generally considered unnecessary.
When it comes to a collection held in any museum, where they may not plan to ever sell a particular artist’s masterpiece, you’d be surprised to know how even then the appraised value acts like a catalyst on artworks by the same artist all over the world. These recent valuations conducted by Christie’s will resonate in the art world for years to come, and interested collectors will most likely have to pay an even prettier penny when they go shopping for fine art by these artists in the future.