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How is the value of art determined?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2018 | Property Division

In the event of a divorce or a legal separation, a Phoenix couple that happens to own a piece of unique artwork, as opposed to a commercially available reproduction, will face the difficult question of how much the art is actually worth. The answer to this question can affect property division and other court decisions. Incidentally, knowing how to value one’s art can also be of benefit even to happily married couples who might need to know this information for business or tax reasons.

Perhaps more so than other forms of property, the value of art is very subjective and thus somewhat illusive. While the most basic way of valuing a piece of art is to add together what it cost to create the work, most would agree this isn’t really an accurate way to know the true value of a piece of fine art.

The value of artwork depends heavily on the opinions of people, many of whom are themselves frequently in the world of art. For example, the opinions of art critics still carry some weight, though perhaps not as much as they did in the past.  The value of any property in divorce is “fair market value”, essentially what would a private party pay for the art.  An art expert should be able to provide that value.

Those who run art galleries where artists sell their art can also play a key role in setting a work’s value, as can those who frequently purchase art for part of their private collections. Even artists themselves can build the value of their own work by having the right image and associating with the right people.

As with any property, the best way to determine the value of a work of art is to sell it and see what price one can get for it. When this is not practical, though, valuing artwork will likely involve the services of a qualified expert. In a legal proceeding, questioning such an expert can be a sensitive matter that is adeptly handled by an experienced family law attorney.