Chinese Art Appraisal
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Selling via Auction Consignment

Many art owners see an auction sale the best option for their art works. The repeated auction rejections or silent treatments, however, have earthquaked your confidence in selling your art works. You may have sincerely doubted about the integrity of an appraisal prepared by a qualified art appraiser or your ability to handle a simple art sale. What is wroing with my art work? Why can't I make an auction house be interested in my art work? Is there anything else I can do to impress an auction house? You have many unanswered questions. Unfortunately, it is neither your fault nor auction houses agents being heartless. In my professional opinion, the dilemma is largely caused by the auctionability of your art work and the current structure of an auction house as a business. Art sales is a serious business, and an auction house cannot represent you if your art work possesses no desirable auction appeal and brings in no profit.

 Don’t be intimidated by auction house representatives. Auction house's interests may be purely financial or their agents may have non-aesthetic reasons for their choices. Remember too that the overworked staff at auction houses also has to make quick judgments based on each agent's individual experience and their understanding of what their superiors at the auction house need at the moment. They may not be expert in the kind of art you have.   If you are convinced by the analysis and the value proposed by a qualified independent art appraiser, then, have faith in your art object and be patient with the process of selling it. If your art work is unusual and of high quality, sooner or later the art market will recognize it and appreciate it.

Some Observations

Auction Sale Acceptance: To be accepted by an auction house for sale, your art work has to be auctionable or sellable. In other words, the auctionability/auctoin appeal of your art work determines whether or not an auction house is willing to represent you. Auction houses are only interested in art works that are likely to excite the bidding public, through they might be less valuable. As a smart art seller, you also need to understand the risk of loss of value that may occur if your art work is offered for sale at auction and fail to sell. Sometimes, an art work may perform much better if it is placed with a private dealer.

Going to the big auction houses may not be the best option. If your art object is not of significant value (more than $10,000), you might consider selling it somewhere other than Christie’s and Sotheby’s.  These auction houses tend not to accept for sale art objects of lower value and objects from low-profile art owners. Sometimes, trying less prestigious but well-respected auction houses like Doyle in New York and Freeman's in PA, may bring you better results. Thus, it is wise to consult an art expert, or have your art work appraised by a qualified independent art appraiser before you approach auction agents or art dealers.

Auction houses charge their commissions based on the Hammer Price. Commission varies from auction house to auction house, so please contact the auction houses of your choice for an accurate commission structure. In China, regardless of the sales price, the usual commission is about 10% of the Hammer Price. Recently, China Guardian Auction House raised their commission from 10% to 12%. Other Chinese auction houses may soon follow the new commission structure. Remember, you can always negotiate the commission and fees with your chosen auction house if your art object is extremely rare and of extraordinary quality.

Selling at an auction house involves various charges and fees. For example, you will pay for a loss and damage warranty, unsold charge, illustration charges, web advertising charges, withdraw consignment charge, insurance, photography, and other possible fees. The amount of charges and fees is determined by the estimates of value proposed by the auction house. Therefore, an honest and objective estimate of your art work is crucial adn cost-effective. You don’t want to pay for the value that does not exist.

Charging buyer a premium on the Hammer Price is a standard practice. The buyer's premium is calculated on the basis of each lot individually. In the U.S., a general rule followed by most auction houses is that if the price is up to $50,000, the commission is 25% of the hammer price. For prices above $50,000 to $1,000,000, the commission is 20%. For prices above $ 1,000,000, the commission is 12% of the hammer price. In China, charging the Buyer's Premium on the Hammer Price has not been fully accepted as a standard practice. However, it is very likely that Auction Houses in mainland China may soon follow Sotheby's and Christie's lead.

 Working with a professional sales agent might get your art work sold fast. Professional art sales agents have their clientele and network. They know very well the market, the needs of their clients, and the most appropriate marketplace for your kind of art, plus years of experience in selling art works. Thus, hiring an agent to sell your artwork may save you both time and energy, of course, you need to share the proceeds with your agent. An experienced agent will locate the auction houses specializing in your kind of art work, open a channel of communication with them on your behalf, and design a selling strategy that works for your art work.

Professioal Honesty & Integrity Matter

We are independent art appraisers and accredited senior appraiser (ASA) in Asian art & Appraisal Review and Management (ARM-PP) with a Ph.D. in Chinese art and M.A. in Asian Art. We received professional training in prestigious universities in the United States and we serve our clients with honesty, integrity and objectivity. We treat every owner individually and provide original research about each individual object. Our work is based on over 10 years of hand-on experience in appraisal and 30 years of experience with Asian art objects, doctoral training in Chinese art, history, and culture, and primary scholarship. As an art historian, an independent Chinese art adviser, and an Accredited Senior Appraiser of Asian art & Appraisal Review and Management designated by American Society of Appraisers, we serve our clients with a set of skills unmatched in the field. We educate our clients about their art works, understand their unique needs, and help them achieve their goals with the knowledge of an insider.

We strive to make our expert services affordable. Beware of the appraisal cost, we offer a Preview to assess your art work's suitability for appraisal prior to entering an appraisal agreement. Sometimes, we may recommend against an appraisal if better solutions are available. If your art work passes the preview and you are ready to proceed, we recommend different Appraisal Reporting Options that suit your needs. We follow the Uniform Standards of the Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) in reporting our findings. We provide key information based the USPAP standards and our agreement. Information included in a typical appraisal report ranges from identification, artist or workshop, date of creation, quality, condition to value conclusion. To help the owner understand the current market, we offer Market Observations as references. A properly appraisal report should equip you with expert's knowledge and insight, whether you wish to deal with insurance agent, auction house or IRS. We are qualified art appraisers for IRS tax-related appraisals.

We are independent professional art appraisers with integrity. We serve with competence, diligence & objectivity.

If you are interested, please Contact Us, or call us at (609) 688-6891.

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