Valuing Native American Art

American Indian Art Appraisals

Valuing Native American art for appraisals is at the heart of what we do. While this is stating the obvious, what may not be obvious is the types of value that come into play with appraisals. An item can have differing valuations depending on the “intended use” of the appraisal. In other words, why is the appraisal needed and what are the circumstance around that item. A need to liquidate an item quickly versus donating it to a museum are examples of two different value scenarios.

In essence, determing value is to ascertain the monetary worth of an item as of a specific date. The operative word here is “determined” as opposed to “estimate”. This is because value is justified by analyzing previous transactions of comparable items in the most appropriate marketplace. Through that analytical process, value is determined. This holds true when valuing Native American art for the purposes of charitable contributions, estate planning, equitable distribution etc.

Appraisers also estimate cost, which is often used for insurance purposes. It’s a different approach than determining a value for appraisals. It deals with what it will cost to replace an item, as of a specified date, generally the date of the appraisal, should it disappear or become damaged. Cost, which is sometimes referred to as replacement value, is essentially a prediction of a future cost of replacement. Since prices rise and fall over time, it is an estimate.

Common types of values used in the appraisal process are:

  • Fair Market Value
  • Market Value 
  • Liquidation Value – Orderly / Forced
  • Replacement Value
  • Actual Cash Value
  • Value in Place / Use

Aarin Richard is a Native American art appraiser, broker and consultant and a member of the International Society of Appraisers. His company, Richard & Associates Art Appraisals, is based in Santa Fe, NM.