Art Crime Education

Hopefully you read my last post about art and cultural property crime, discussing what law enforcement agencies around the world are doing to combat this problem.  In case you missed it, you can read the full post at “Art and Crime”. 

This is a growing area of specialty study and relates to a variety of fields including appraisal, investigation,  insurance, art law, security, museums and conservation.

As a person who continually looks for educational opportunities, I’d like to share some of the upcoming events I’ve found relating to art crime:

Art Crime Investigation Seminar

Philadelphia, PA, June 10-15, 2012

Symposium on Criminality in the Art  and Cultural Property World

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, June 15-16, 2012

The World of Art and the Fine Art of Crime Symposium

North Easton, MA, July 30 – August 3, 2012

 

 

 

 

ART and CRIME

 When it comes to art and cultural property crime, we’re used to hearing about high profile thefts at museums.  According to the Art Loss Register, over 50% of thefts occur from private collections.  There are hundreds of thousands of reported art crimes each year, not to mention those unreported.  This includes theft, fraud and looting as well as trafficking across state lines and international borders.  The category of art crime is rather broad and can include fine art, antiquities, collectibles, musical instruments, antiques, pottery, glass, silver, books, documents, textiles and much more.

In the March issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, there is an excellent article discussing many of the issues relating to worldwide art crime:  Protecting Cultural Heritage from Art Theft by Noah Charney, Paul Denton, and John Kleberg.  It discusses how art crime on local and international levels potentially funds organized crime and terrorist activities.   It also discusses what law enforcement agencies around the world are doing to combat this problem.

The FBI has an Art Crime Team with 14 special agents.  They conduct investigations and manage the National Stolen Art File, a search-able database of stolen art and cultural property objects.  An FBI Agent spoke to an appraisers meeting I attended a few years ago, and stated that 80% of the signatures on celebrity and sports memorabilia were fake.  Buyer beware!

In Southern California where I live, the Los Angeles Police Department Art Theft Detail is charged with investigating thefts, fakes, frauds and forgeries.  They also publish a list of alerts and latest stolen art.

Personal property appraisers need to be aware of these issues, and exercise due diligence on appraisal assignments.  Owners may be unaware they have been given or purchased a suspicious object with an unclear title.   Items with questionable provenance or title may have a lower value, and ownership rights are subject to challenges and claims. 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Art Loss Register http://www.artloss.com/en

Association for Research into Crimes against Art  http://artcrime.info/

Fine Art Registry http://www.fineartregistry.com/

International Foundation For Art Research http://www.ifar.org/

 

 

 

Scholarships for Personal Property Appraisers


The Foundation for Appraisal Education is offering three (3) scholarships this year to beginning and     experienced personal property appraisers.  As stated on their website “The Foundation for Appraisal Education was formed to advance education related to personal property appraising and to assist individuals through scholarships for educational development to improve their capabilities by attending courses, classes, workshops and conferences.”

Applications will be accepted through June 30th, and scholarships will be awarded on July 31st.   Students, independent appraisers and members from all personal property appraisal societies are welcome to apply.   For more information and a scholarship application visit http://www.foundationforappraisaleducation.org/scholarship.html

As a recipient of the Experienced Appraiser scholarship in 2005, I used the award to attend a Fine Arts course.  The application process was easy.  Anyone who thinks they might qualify should apply.

Royal Oak Foundation lectures

 

The Royal Oak Foundation has scheduled a Spring lecture series of interest to appraisers, historians and Anglophiles in several cities throughout the U.S.  Some of the lecture titles include:

Westminster Abbey: A Place for Royal Celebration

“A Great Number of Useful Books”: The Country House Library

Resurrecting the English Country House

“Glorious Goodwood”: A House of Ducal Splendour

“A Work to Wonder At”: Stowe House and the American Revolution

Lectures are scheduled in the following cities:

Atlanta Boston & Ipswich Chicago Los Angeles Memphis New Orleans New York City Philadelphia San Diego San Francisco & Woodside Washington DC

For those not familiar with the foundation:

The Royal Oak Foundation engages Americans in the work of the National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland ………  In the United States, Royal Oak offers a wide range of member programs and activities focused on the National Trust, British art and architecture, fine & decorative arts, gardens, history, as well as conservation and historic preservation.

For more details, brochure, cost and reservations, please visit The Royal Oak Foundation.

AVOIDING ART FORGERIES

Magnifying glass image
Appraiser’s Magnifying Glass

Artfixdaily published an article this week titled “Feds Investigate Possible Forgeries of Modern Art“.  It describes how modernist paintings from a supposed anonymous private collection were sold to prominent New York galleries, and are now being investigated by the FBI as possible forgeries.  Some of the works being questioned include paintings by Pollack, Rothko, Motherwell and Diebenkorn.  A more extensive article on the subject was in the New York Times titled “Possible Forging of Modern Art is Investigated”.

Fakes and forgeries have been fooling people for centuries.  Here are some things to do prior to buying an expensive work of art.  Many of these points can be applied to antiques, collectibles and other high-end purchases.

1) Consider contacting an art consultant or appraiser to evaluate the piece.
2) Check the provenance.  Pieces with no history of ownership or from anonymous collections should raise a red flag.
3) Check the catalog raisonne’ to see if the piece is listed.
4) Contact a known expert on the artist or an authentication board.
5) Check art loss registers for clear title.
6) Have scientific testing done if necessary.
7) Buy from respected dealers who provide complete documentation and a money back guarantee.

Don’t forget, if it seems too good to be true…… it probably is.

Choosing Experts to Appraise Collectibles and Valuables

Antique Child's Sewing MachineThe New York Times recently published an article titled “The Specialized Art of the Appraisal”.   It stresses the importance of keeping tabs on your collection, knowing what you have and the values.

“Whether it is fine wines, vintage movie posters or abstract paintings, some people spend a great deal of time and money compiling collections of valuables. Even if they’re collecting out of personal passion, rather than as an investment, it makes sense to keep tabs on how much the collection is worth.”

An appraisal is an essential tool to accomplish this goal.  The article goes on to explain the importance of selecting the correct appraiser for the job, checking the appraiser’s qualifications and additional helpful tips.

“Personal-property appraisers aren’t licensed, but reputable professionals are affiliated with at least one of the three major appraisal organizations: the Appraisers Association of America, which focuses on personal property; the American Society of Appraisers, which includes specialists in real estate and other areas; and the International Society of Appraisers. 

Credentialed members of these three associations have been tested in their specialty area and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), abide by a Code of Ethics and have to requalify every five years.

To read the entire article click here. 

Protecting Your Valuables From A Disaster

 

Fire season is upon us in California and it’s time to be prepared.  As a personal property appraiser, I’d like to offer the following tips on protecting your valuable possessions prior to a disaster:

  • Photograph and inventory the contents of your home.  You can do it yourself or hire a professional home inventory company.
  • Check with your insurer to see what your policy covers, whether you have an Actual Cash Value or Replacement Value policy and what might need to be appraised.  Many items are not covered on standard insurance policies, such as breakage and earthquake damage.  You may need to purchase an extra policy for valuable articles.
  • Antiques, collections, art and other high value personal property should be appraised for replacement value.
  • Select an independent appraiser from a major appraisal society such as the International Society of Appraisers, who has been designated and tested.
  • Keep one copy of the appraisal in a separate location from the home, e.g. safety deposit box, insurance company, relative, on-line storage.
  • Have the appraisal updated approximately every five (5) years.
  • It’s much better to have your items documented in advance, than to try to deal with a loss claim after the fact.

Helpful Articles:

Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover You If Disaster Hits? , Sandra Block, USA Today

Antique Insurance Coverage: What Antique Collectors Need to Know to SafeGuard Their Treasures, Insurance Information Institute

Is Your Home Fire Safe?, Insurance Information Network of California

Appraisers and Licensing

You might be surprised to hear that there are no Federal or state licenses for personal property appraisers in the United States.   When it comes to placing a value on your antiques, art and household contents, anybody can say they are a appraiser.   If a personal property appraiser claims to be licensed, it is for some other aspect of their business, e.g. auctioneering, real property appraising, private investigation or even a city business license.

How are personal property appraisers credentialed and what standards do they follow?

Appraisers are credentialed by their professional appraisal associations.  The three largest associations with personal property appraisers are the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and the Appraisers Association of America (AAA).  In addition to testing, education and demonstration of appraisal experience, designated members must requalify every 5 years.  All members are bound by a Code of Ethics.

The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) is a set of guidelines published by The Appraisal Standards Board at The Appraisal Foundation.  It is the source of generally accepted standards and ethics for appraisers in the United States.  Appraisers must  take USPAP courses and keep current with the updates every 2 years.  In addition, the Appraisers Qualifications Board has developed voluntary minimum qualifications for personal property appraisers.

The IRS has established the following requirements:

  • A Qualified Appraiser has earned a professional designation from a recognized professional  appraiser organization for demonstrated competency in valuing the type of property being appraised, or has met certain minimum education and experience requirements.
  • The individual regularly prepares appraisals for which he or she is paid.
  • The individual demonstrates verifiable education and experience in valuing the type of property being appraised.
  • The individual has not been prohibited from practicing before the IRS under section 330(c) of title 31 of the United States Code at any time during the 3-year period ending on the date of the appraisal.
  • The individual is not an excluded individual.
What should you do to make sure you are getting a qualified and ethical appraiser?
  • Choose an appraiser from a major appraisal society and check to see if they are current.  Certified and Accredited are the highest levels of designation.
  • Ask them about their experience, areas of designation and expertise.
  • The appraiser should provide a 3rd-party independent opinion of value, and not have a potential conflict of interest.
  • Choose an appraiser who is USPAP compliant and IRS qualified.

Perhaps personal property appraisers will be regulated and licensed at some future date.  In the meantime, the user of appraisal services should carefully consider their selection.

Education Calendar for Personal Property Appraisers

Personal property appraisers are always looking for opportunities to enhance their appraisal knowledge and earn professional development points.  As part of the Education Committee for the Antiques & Residential Contents Division at the International Society of Appraisers, I created the Educational Opportunities Calendar in 2004 and am currently the manager.

Included in the calendar are classes, symposiums and seminars from major appraisal societies, auction houses, museums, historical societies and colleges.   Offerings include antiques, collectibles, decorative art, fine art, jewelry, furniture, historical events, regional studies, USPAP classes and more.  In addition to the classes hosted in various locations, many on-line events are listed and highlighted in yellow.

Check the calendar for  events up to a year in advance.  For calendar submissions, please e-mail event information to me at kjablonsky@personalpropertyappraisals.com

Sesquicentennial Renews Interest in Civil War Collectibles

Civil War Sesquicentenial

The 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War takes place this year and continues until 2015.  There are many state and local activities scheduled to commemorate this historical event.

Appraisers need to be aware of special events such as this, and how they will affect the values for related items.   This multi-year anniversary of such an important historical event is expected to have an increase on values for Civil War artifacts and collectibles, at least temporarily.  Buyers and appraisers should also be aware that civil war artifacts are frequently faked.

More information on the planned events is available at the following websites:

Civil War Trust  http://www.civilwar.org/150th-anniversary/

Smithsonian Institution http://www.civilwar150.si.edu/

The National Archives http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/civil-war/

The National Civil War Museum

 

Top 10: Ten of the biggest auction sales of historic U.S. Civil War memorabilia

(source: Wikicollecting)