How To Value Artwork

Finding values for original artwork, prints and sculpture.

Placing a value on a piece of art can be tricky. If you watch auctions, you have seen artwork far exceed the valuation given by experts. You’ve also seen paintings with high expectations fail to sell. Factors such as rarity, condition, age, location, timing, subject matter, size and provenance can come into play.

In the 19th century it was said the number of cows in a landscape painting could help determine its value. Unfortunately today it’s not that simple.

There are several places to look to start to get an idea about the value of your art. For best results, it is good to get multiple opinions.

Many higher-value items are sold through auction and a great place to start is searching auction records. You can search through many auction results on sites like To research your artwork or artist here, sign up for an account then search. Any items currently being offered with be displayed. Click on See Sold Item results to find similar items offered in the past. Other auction sites include and Heritage Auctions at

You can also try searching on eBay. Artwork by the same artist may have been sold on eBay. To start, search for your artist in the eBay search bar. Choose the appropriate category to help eliminate unrelated results. In the left column under show only, choose completed listings or sold listing if you want to eliminate the items that failed to sell. You can also select your geographic area and narrow the results if you think your item may have more value locally.

Another way to help determine the value of an artwork is to seek out the advice from an auctioneer. To do this first try to determine which auction house specializes in the kind of item you are trying to value. If you have work by a Texas artist, it may be best to contact auction houses in the state and find an expert in Texas art. Many large auction houses have specialists who can best help you determine the value. Use the auction website to find a specialist, then contact them. Emailing a photo of your item is helpful. The specialist should be able to give you an idea of the item’s value and let you know what it could bring at auction. Many auction houses have events from time to time where you can bring items to be appraised as well.

You can also bring a photo of your artwork to an art or antique show or visit a local dealer. Painting and artwork exhibitors should be present. Dealers may be able to give you an idea of what an item could sell for and may offer to purchase. You may want to come with the results of your internet searches in hand. If the price doesn’t meet your expectation, the dealer may be able to tell you why the items showing in the results are different from yours. Dealers may also be willing to take items on consignment or broker a private sale.

You may also want to contact an appraiser. Like dealers and auction specialists, an appraiser with knowledge in your particular area will be better able to give you an accurate value including for retail, insurance, and resale. There will likely be a fee involved, but you may need an official estimate if you are valuing an item for insurance purposes. You can find a personal property appraiser through the International Society of Appraisers.

The actual value of any item is about supply and demand, which is always in flux. It’s best to exhaust several avenues for the best results.