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Seeking financial advice about art

July 29th, 2008 at 12:16 pm

My mother-in-law gave my husbands two paintings a few months ago painted by who she claimed is Robert Woods. Hubby and I did a little research and found that he's apparently well known. I looked at the paintings myself, but could not find a signature. Regardless of this, I took to the task of seeing about an appraisal.

I called the Chicago Art Institute who referred me to an appraiser (I assume well reputed?). He instructed me to take a picture of each painting and mail those to him rather than automatically come in which would cost $195 per piece. He stated that a lot of Robert Wood paintings are valueless reproductions, etc, so air on the frugal side. I did just that. I also e-mailed a supposed Robert Wood expert.

The Robert Wood expert basically told me the paintings are probably early works and are valueless. I sent the pictures to the appraiser anyway just to confirm this opinion.

Low and behold, in my mailbox today, I have a letter from the appraiser stating that they could be of "very good to considerable" value and that I should give them the dimensions and $195 for each painting to have them appraised.

What to do? $400 is a LOT of money to spend to find out they are together worth $400 or something ridiculous like that. I'd end up having them appraised just to hang them in my house. On the other hand, they could be worth something. I have no idea what to do here. Is the money worth spending to have them appraised?

8 Responses to “Seeking financial advice about art”

  1. aevans1206 Says:

    For anyone wondering, I meant husband, not the plural. I am not married to more than one Wink

  2. gamecock43 Says:

    Well, only have one appraised first. And thats a tough one. Do you have a university nearby and can contact the art department?

  3. momcents Says:


    I think we have all watched Antiques Roadshow to know that there are "wows" out there. Would you be willing to sell you art if they are worth a lot of money and what would you be able to keep if you sold them at auction? Would you be willing to insure them? I don't know much about art at all. Look for a local appraisal fair or something of the sort. That would be less money and then you would receive confirmation that they are by the artist.

  4. debtfreeme Says:

    are they important enough to you to have them insured against an accident?

    Can you take just one and see wha thappens with that one?

  5. merch Says:

    Why not run it by an art auction house and see what they say?

  6. Broken Arrow Says:

    No offense, but my knee-jerk reaction is that maybe this man is trying to make a quick buck off of you. I mean, either way, he makes $400.

    Of course, my knee-jerk reaction to most things in life is suspecting foul play, so please feel free to take that comment for what it's worth. Big Grin

    I would pursue cheaper avenues first before sending my money in.

  7. boomeyers Says:

    I agree, find a cheap third opinion and if they think it is worth something, send in one to be appraised.

  8. aevans1206 Says:

    I've been mulling this over and there's no need for me to go immediately to have these appraised and possibly sold. I had already called this appraiser who in my best interest, had suggested I mail him pictures first.

    So, yesterday, just to get further information, I called him. I told him what this "expert" had told me and the appraiser told me that the paintings are very good and are definitely American Impressionism. He also stated that he does not suggest appraisal unless he knows the value of the paintings must be at least over $1000. What they would need to do, because there are no signatures on the paintings, is to research who the artist is or confirm they are indeed painted by Robert Wood. Early works of Robert Wood are many times not signed by the artist and from my research (limited as it may be) it would make sense that my MIL's MIL (yes, they're that old) may have purchased them from a street fair from Robert Wood. Who knows, but I think I will try just submitting one for now.

    The key here is that the paintings need to be researched. My husband also says that he feels his mother has another painting at her house that does indeed bear Robert Wood's signature, that it wasn't her that told him the artist, it was that he saw the signature himself. I'll keep y'all updated.

    It's kind of exciting from the standpoint that we may have ourselves a downpayment for an FHA loan without having to seek out grants! Here's to hoping on that front. If they're only worth a grand a piece, I may then just add them to our insurance and hang them prominently in our home.

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