This is a story of an insurance appraisal of Asian Art owned by well-known personalities in the SF Bay Area.
I heard my telephone and answered by chance rather than my usual manner of ring tone off so as not to be ‘on call’ 24 hours, and after polite initial commentary, I asked the gentleman how he got my name and what was the purpose of the appraisal? My name was given through a museum. Typically, a museum will provide simply a list of appraisers with their specialty stated and any professional association such as ASA (American Society of Appraisers). The first time I encountered this type of referral, the person on the phone said “I got your name through The Smithsonian.” I was speechless and now I understand. I asked if he had seen my website, and yes, he was on the site while talking with me. On my website, I list my services, credentials fees and more.
We discussed ADA accessibility of the location of the property, the inheritance of curated Asian art from his equally well-known mother-in-law and previous scholars involved in the acquisition of the collection in the late 1980’s. I started business in Asian Art in mid 1970’s and many of the individuals were my contemporaries. We spoke of many individuals known to both of us. It was a friendly conversation, he revealing the names of the parties involved gradually and when appropriate. We agreed to a preliminary date when the house staff would be available for me to inspect the property.
The purpose of the appraisal was for insurance and clearly without thinking, I uttered a phrase, “usually I tell people not to bother with insurance, …”. I was momentarily ‘star struck’ by the perceived magnitude of value of the material. This material deserved insurance! Not often do I inspect this quality of material and my ‘go to phrases’ were not appropriate. This was not going to be my usual inspection of mid five figure values.
Inheriting ‘curated Asian Art’ is a key to understanding the quality of the property. The now deceased family member was a well-known collector of Asian Art with the help of a personal curator to research and vet the desired purchases. Many a collector has a curator, and it was my job to contact the previous curators and scholars that were involved in the acquisition of the material. This job uses my skills of looking and learning about Asian Art for the last four decades, contacting the individuals that contribute to making Asian Art hit the headlines with sales over the norm. As I often say, the worth of an appraiser is the network they have built.