Is the price right?

Art dealer James Snidle discusses how art is priced

James Snidle is an art appraiser with art businesses in San Francisco and Chico. His James Snidle Gallery has been in Chico for 20 years. He has two degrees in art and has been appraising for nearly 12 years.

Snidle has provided the following guidelines for determining the value of art pieces:

When I’m hired to appraise an estate, research is a key to finding out what something’s worth. It’s like real estate in a lot of ways, for known artists, and [for] artists who have passed away, their prices tend to be based on what the artist made during his life. The secondary market is what an artist sells for at auction. Those prices are basically what an appraiser uses to compare with.

If I see a signed Picasso print, and it needs to be appraised, I can possibly find that actual print that sold at auction and therefore make an assumption and a deduction as to what that print is presently worth.

It’s basically based on actual figures found at galleries at auction.

In the case of living artists, I have a lot of very young artists come to me and expect me to set prices for them. That’s not exactly how it works. Each individual artist has to establish their prices, and how do you do that? Well, you sell your work and what you get for your work is what your work is worth.

You have to begin reasonable and establish a sales record.

So, if a client comes to me and wants to know what a painting is worth I have to ask them: Is the artist living? What did the artist get for his pieces? Is he still making art?

An appraisal is based on that kind of information on a living artist and a check on galleries that handle his work. That is how you would establish a price.