First off, I applaud you.  Isn’t it a great world we live in, where all the knowledge of the Ages… all of it… is right there at end of your fingertips?

Wow.  How incredibly cool is that?  However, Finding It, finding What You Want, and finding the Correct Information, while not becoming confused in an unfamiliar Game, that is “the rub”.  It is not as easy as you think to find your painting, your artist, or the comparables for your type of art…such as,  ‘SCHOOL OF French Impressionists’, or ‘the Drip School, etc.?   Ah, this is major confusing.

Now, if you have a friend in the Art Industry, or a family member who’s an artist, they can tell you some of things you need to know, which will help you NOT get major confused by too much information.  Plus, they might have saved you from yourself, and gotten you to the point of additional and more reliable information. However, you still will not be able to sell it for the amount you believe it to be worth, because you do not have a written appraisal by someone licensed. An appraisal needs to be presented to your buyer, or, especially, the consignment gallery, auction house…etc.  You say it is worth “X” and your buyer/gallery owner says it is worth “Y”:

How can you prove you’re right?

Let’s say you have a ‘legible’ artist’s name, you can read it!  (This is not always the case. ) Excellent:  Now, you need to differentiate in your research between this artist (worth 2 mil) and that other artist (whose signature may look a lot like your painting) which is worth 2 Grand, max.  You could be lead astray by your emotions.  It could happen.  Plus, your grandmother, back in the day… well she told you this was a SPECIAL piece.  Didn’t she say that? you’re thinking.  You could have this fab 2-Million-dollar painting.  But, whoops, let’s think again:  was grandmother or whomever told you it was valuable just before they gave it to you… knowledgeable in the Art Game? Did they know what they were talking about, or rather just trying to impress you?  Or, even worse, was this information stated by someone who was selling you the ‘piece’?  The Art Industry is not as clean as you’d like to think.  After owning Galleries for 17 years, and experiencing the ups and downs of my Industry for a total of 49-years including a decade of Art Schools, I know there are a lot of shysters out there.  Especially in the Art Game.

You see, when someone, grandmother perhaps or whomever you inherited this painting from, first clapped eyes on it, “back in the day” she/he was enthralled with it… enough to buy it. And, depending on if they were a “Bucks up” buyer or not, it could have been a lot of money to them… making them surmise this was a SPECIAL ‘piece’. Well, the amount the Gallery charged might have been influenced by her/his excitement. How many times have we been in a Gallery where there are no prices on the wall next to the paintings?  The proprietor wants to have a Little Latitude in his pricing.  He wants to judge you by your clothing, your attitude, your vocabulary, maybe even the wheels you drove up in… then he’ll set his prices.

And, don’t buy on-line to avoid this dilemma. There are other dilemmas which are worse, when buying on-line. How do you really know that what you are buying is what they are going to send you?  Is it truly a LIMITED EDITION?  Is it truly by this esteemed artist, or a ‘knock off’… which looks a lot like your artist, but is not? At least with a local Gallery, they have their reputation to maintain.  They must treat you fairly.  Their standing within the Art Community depends on no one speaking against them, locally.  This protects you.  Buy from the most polished and prestigious Gallery in your area.   They are large and polished, sparkling clean and well known because they’ve been around forever.  And they would not have been around forever if they did not treat all their clients fairly.

There are many problems with doing your own research; we’ve only touched on a few.

We are not that expensive.  My goodness, $85.00 per ½-hour, just to look at it, and see if it worth going forward with: That’s not a huge amount to avoid a costly mistake.  Don’t make a decision in a vacuum.  If you do not have the correct information about your Fine Arts… either  ‘Up or Down’… well, you’re probably going to make a mistake… maybe even a costly one.  How many chances Do you have to come ahead in your life?  This item, whether an inheritance, a cool painting from a thrift store, whatever it is; this could be one of those chances.  Don’t blow it.