For What It’s Worth, Trust An Experienced Appraiser

by Hans vanGennip

How many times have we all heard this line in the antique/art/collectibles business?

“They didn’t know what they had”

 And usually, that person with that undiscovered treasure often ends up in the hands of someone who “does know what they had”.  This is why getting a proper appraisal from a member of the Canadian Association of Personal Property Appraisers (CAPPA) is such an important step before a collection is sold. Here is a prime example.

I have been an appraiser with CAPPA for the last 13 years and I recently was asked to appraise a collection of about 20 paintings.   The client was selling it on his father’s behalf and wasn’t familiar with the material. He assumed there was nothing of real value and for the most part he was right.  Most of the paintings were in the $50 range and a couple may have been worth $150-$200. One painting had a price tag on the back that said $175.

Well, it turns out that painting with the $175 price tag was a valuable abstract that would fetch up to $20,000 at auction.  I was very pleased to tell the client about his father’s hidden treasure. 

I’m proud to follow CAPPA’s strong code of ethics that makes it clear that once committed to doing an appraisal, no offer can be made on the material.  Is it possible that a dealer seeing the material would have pointed out the valuable painting?  Sure, there are several honest and reputable dealers. But, when you enlist the help of an experienced appraiser, the client should be the one to receive the unexpected windfall.  

As an appraiser with the Canadian Association of Personal Property Appraisers I am constantly asked what something is worth. This connection between my family and A.Y. Jackson is priceless to me. Now, it’s time to understand the connections between the Michauds of Cacouna and my family of Saint-Pascal.

It’s a small world after all.

Valuable Abstract