Dec 11, 2015


The Appraisal Foundation (based in Washington, DC), that oversees the appraisal profession, has produced a fine introductory brochure for the public on what proper appraisals should include and how to find a competent appraiser. You can download it here

Nov 28, 2015


I just finished reading this wonderful book: VAN GOGH ON DEMAND, CHINA AND THE READYMADE by Winnie Won Yin Wong (University of Chicago Press, 2013). It is all about an entire city in China whose residents make copies of famous Western paintings. Insightful commentary on art and consumerism, art and creativity, art and craft....

Nov 27, 2015

NEW YORK TIMES Article About the Market for Pre-modern Japanese Art

The New York Times today published an interesting article about the current state of the Japanese art market. While making some good points, it was nevertheless very over simplified and somewhat erroneous in its to description of the art of the Edo period (1615-1868) as classical Japanese art (way too late in date!) and of course the comments on the Japanese print market are misleading because that is not the pre-modern Japanese art market's only sector that should not be judged by auction prices, since higher prices are realized through sales by private dealers.

Nov 24, 2015


ARTNET NEWS had an interesting and informative primer about pitfalls to watch for when shipping art today. ART SHIPPING NIGHTMARES AND HOW BEST TO AVOID THEM

1. Don't pack the art yourself
2. Get advice on a shipper - ask the registrar department at a local museum, gallery, or collectors
3. Get a professional to write a condition report (and include photos) before the object ships and after it arrives
4. Clarify if the shipper you choose will subcontract in transit and vet the trans-shipper too
5. Make sure loans get returned in the same crates in which you shipped them to the borrower
6. Shipping ephemeral materials have special challenges
7. Check shipping details like making sure the crate fits in the receiving location's elevator

8. (not included in the article, but always a good idea) - prior to shipping art you own, make sure your insurance coverage is up-to-date. Insuring for purchase price when the sale took place several years ago is not a good idea, because insurers may only pay damages on stated amounts and prices may have risen since then. In addition, purchase prices are not the same as insurance value, which includes additional fees such as potential taxes, commission fees, shipping, and insurance for the purchase of a replacement object if yours gets lost or damaged in transit.

Nov 12, 2015

Classical Chinese Furniture Prices Skyrocketing

All 26 lots in Sotheby's London sale of Classical Chinese Furniture on November 12, 2015 sold, for a total of US$16,780,515, which was over 10 times above the pre-sale low estimate. This success followed the successful sale of Chinese furniture Sotheby's held in Hong Kong in October, which realized US$33.5 million, which was more than double the pre-sale estimate. 

Another Great Sale for Shibata Zeshin at Bonham's

Another great sale at Bonhams London for the art of Japanese artist Shibata Zeshin, November 10, 2015, as reported in the Art Daily Newspaper

Nov 7, 2015

New Auction Record for Japanese Lacquer Artist Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891)

Although some sectors of the Japanese art market are in the doldrums, that is not the case across the board for all types of Japanese art. Bonham's sale of lacquer arts and paintings by Shibata Zeshin on November 5, 2015 in London demonstrates that fine quality works, by important artists, in fine condition, and with impeccable provenance can command record-setting prices. The start of this auction was LOT 14 a panel with a design of a farmhouse in snow at Sano, dated 1883.
It sold for USD $1,275,401.

Nov 2, 2015

Faking of Vietnamese Antiquities

I am providing links to two interesting blog posts on faking of Vietnamese antiquities
Part 1 -tricks-to-sell-fake-objects
Part 2 -how-to-cheat-buyers

Oct 29, 2015

What You Need to Know When Getting Your Personal Property Appraised

This short article has some good advice for people looking for a personal property appraiser for the first time and want to know more about how to locate a qualified professional.
Advice from the president of the Appraisal Foundation

Jul 22, 2015

New Article Published on Langdon Warner and the Nelson-Atkins Museum's Japanese Collection

My new article is: "Langdon Warner's Vision for the Japanese Collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 1930-1935," published in The Journal of the History of Collection, Oxford University (forthcoming in print later in 2015, in an issue dedicated to "Ideas of Asia in the Museum"). Available online from July 6, 2015
I have been working on this article for years, perhaps decades. Finally it is published, a prelude to my next book about Langdon Warner and Japan.

Mar 28, 2015


ArtNews reports that Asia Week sales in NYC shattered records. For example, the Ellsworth sales at Christie's did so much better than expected. Everyone recognized sale of his collection marked the end of an era.

Feb 21, 2015

How to Find a Qualified Appraiser

For the past year I have been involved with the Washington DC-based Appraisal Foundation that oversees the appraising profession (business, real property, gems, and personal property). I am on a resource panel for personal property appraisers charged with helping the Appraisal Foundation enhance public trust in personal property appraisers. We are examining ways appraisers get accredited and  are attempting to determine if a universal accreditation/certification system is feasible, considering the creation of a "national registry" for valuation specialists/appraisers in various disciplines, seeing if developing discipline-specific standards is possible, and considering methods of oversight of the profession. 
At present, there is no universal set standard to which appraisers must adhere. It is also a self-regulated profession, with appraisers of the various organizations setting admissions policies for their own members. Moreover, only a small number of appraisers belong to the big three appraiser organizations (AAA, ISA, ASA) at all--most are independent, with many being dealers or auction house staff members. Still, while many members of these organizations are very good, membership in these national appraiser organizations does not guarantee that appraisers are really qualified in the areas they appraise.

I would strongly recommend that when searching for a qualified appraiser make sure to hire only appraisers who truly have specialization in the fields for which they need appraising services. Also, remember that if your collection is large and diverse you might have to hire several appraisers or an appraiser who works with colleagues in several specialties (as I do). Perhaps the hardest thing for an appraiser is to know when to call in a consultant. Many generalists don't know the best dealers or auction houses to recommend to clients who want to sell their collections. Often for large and diverse collections I recommend selling at several  venues, that I select depending on where the client lives and the quality of the objects. Also, and this is most important, when choosing an appraiser always ask when they last took a USPAP (Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) class. USPAP (initially a 15 hour 2-day class with exam and 7-hour update classes every 2 years thereafter--to coincide with regular updates to USPAP) is required of appraisers who do appraisals reviewed by the IRS. Many appraisers do not even know what USPAP is and do not comply with its standards.