When someone close to us dies, it's often one of the most difficult times in our lives. Along with the grieving process, we have to deal with all of their belongings . This can be especially hard when it comes to artwork. If you've inherited a painting, or a series of works, the best approach may be to enlist the help of an art professional early on who can guide you through the process of selling. A professional dealer or 'art concierge' can usually help take the headache out of the process allowing you to focus on what matters most.
In this article we will discuss the process of selling inherited paintings using the help of trusted professionals. We will discuss, making an inventory, determining the value of the works, how to deal with both low and high value items.
Step 1: Making an Inventory
One of the first steps to selling your paintings is to make an inventory. This will help you focus and get things in order quickly. Begin by writing down the details of each painting, including the collector's name, age, and prestige. Also note when and where the artwork was acquired, as well as any other relevant information. Be as thorough as possible to make your life easier. Then take high quality photographs of each painting, along with any available details about the artist, condition, and subject matter. The Artwork Archive database can help you organise this information. Once you have a complete and accurate inventory, you will be ready to start approaching dealers and auction houses about selling.
Making an inventory may seem daunting depending on the amount of art that you have inherited, depending on your circumstances it may therefore be worth enlisting the help of a trusted art expert to do this on your behalf. Working with an "Art Concierge" or a professional art consultancy at this early stage can help you get a handle on things and focus instead on what matters most.
Step 2: Getting your art valued
Securing a professional valuation should be the second step when selling your inherited paintings. Professional appraisals should give you a more accurate understanding of artwork's true worth, as well as an insight into the current market trends. If you have ten or more pieces then an auction house of repute such as Sotheby's, Christie's, Bonhams, Phillips and Heritage would likely be willing to come to assess the pieces in person. It is important to find a certified and reliable appraiser so that you don't run into any unpleasant surprises.
A seasoned art expert will take considerable time to properly examine each painting, this is important particularly to authenticate works by big name artists. Based on all the information gathered they will then be able to provide an estimated price range, based on what likely return you could expect once the artworks go on auction. It is advisable to secure two separate estimates from different sources, this will build confidence in the pricing range and authenticity of the work.
Step 3: Dealing with Low Market Value
If the appraiser estimates that some of your artwork is worth less than £500, then it might be best to avoid selling them at auction. The cost for auctioning these pieces may exceed their estimated amount, and you'll end up spending more money than you'd make in return. Instead, consider donating the artworks to a local museum or charity or selling them to local antique stores or online marketplaces.
Alternatively, if you have sentimental attachment to the work or it has historic or cultural value you can simply consider archiving it or adding it to one of the walls in your home.
Step 4: Where to sell your inherited paintings
Congratulations! All of your hard work has paid off and you have been given the good news that the items you inherited have some value. Now, it's time to choose how to sell them. To get the best estimates and understand your different options, contact both specialist art dealers and auction houses.
Many people opt for consigning their items to an auction house with an agreed estimated auction price as this takes away the hassle of having to manage all aspects of a private sale. The benefit of auction houses is that they can promote your artworks to potential art buyers through their digital marketing strategies as well as organise private viewings of the works. The risk that comes from selling at auction is if the artwork does not reach the reserve price and is not sold. This will have an impact on future sales and could reduce the overall value of the piece.
On the other hand, selling privately to a specialist dealer can be a simpler process that offers more stability in terms of pricing and marketing. You will have to do some research in order to find reputable art dealers who are interested in selling your artwork, however if you find a specialist they may have far more knowledge and contacts for that particular artist than a conventional auction house. There is also no risk of not selling for the reserve price, however you do have to be careful to vet a reputable dealer with accreditations and good reviews.
Step 5: Working with an "Art Concierge"
Selling inherited art can be an intimidating and drawn-out process. Taking inventory, getting an appraisal, understanding the complex process of consignment. All of these aspects have to be carefully considered before the final sale; it may be time consuming and emotionally taxing during an already difficult time. This is why many art owners turn to a professional "Art Concierge" for help.
Art Concierges provide comprehensive services from evaluating the artwork, researching its history, securely packing and transporting it, finding the best sales solution whether it be an auction house or private dealer. They are intimately familiar with the art market and will place the artwork in front of potential buyers through direct outreach or by submitting it to relevant auctions or re-marketing platforms. An art concierge is purely looking out for the clients best interest when it comes to achieving a final sale protecting the client from the many pitfalls of the art world. Here at Artelier we are specialist "Art Concierges" helping our clients navigate the delicate process of selling inherited works with understanding, transparency, and respect.
Inheriting an artwork can be a wonderful and special experience, though when it comes time to sell, there are lots of decisions to make in order to get the best financial return on your inheritance. From getting an appraisal and making an inventory to finding reputable specialists or auction houses that will help you make the sale – each step needs caution and precision .
If you’re in need of some help to navigate this process, consider hiring an "Art Concierge" who can expertly guide you through the entire process. With the right care and attention to detail, you’ll be able to maximise your return on your inherited artwork. If you would like to find out more about our art concierge services discover our dedicated page or simply get in touch so an advisor can get back to you as soon as possible.