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Friday, September 21, 2018

An ISA Member in the Far East

Khadinn Khan, ISA AM
I was the Chief Claims Adjuster and Risk Surveyor for AXA ART, the global art insurance specialist, in Asia, when I applied for ISA membership in 2016.

Art insurance is still a developing business in the region, where more collection owners or custodians elect to self-insure rather than taking up specialist coverage. I worked with a small team at AXA ART and was the only member with adequate art knowledge, therefore, I was tasked with the responsibility of verifying and approving the sum insured (on agreed value basis) of artworks proposed by brokers and clients on their insurance policies. People began to approach us with items which they thought were of high worth and wanted to insure, including items purchased many years ago or passed down to the family, and expected us to provide a solution or referral for valuation. These requests were particularly common when I was conducting risk surveys at clients’ homes. After a while, it became apparent that if I could add art appraisal expertise to my skill set, it would help to progress my career.

There are a very low number of professional art appraisers in Asia due to lack of demand. In Hong Kong, we have a low tax rate and a simple tax system that provides no tax relief for charitable donations, except for cash contributions. Additionally, estate duty has been abolished, so neither estate duty accounts nor clearance papers need to be filed. With no governmental requirements for appraisal, there is simply limited demand to support professional appraisal businesses. At the same time, China and Hong Kong have emerged dramatically as an art market and are now considered the world’s second largest, according to The Art Market 2018 report published by Art Basel and UBS. The lack of professional art appraisal service is hindering the growth of other financial services, such as art insurance and art-backed loans.

There is clearly enormous potential for appraisers in Asia, but what convinced me to obtain a formal education in art appraisal was my personal involvement in a unique damage claim.

Hong Kong Harborfront © Art Basel 

An auction house client reported a claim for damage to a Song dynasty ceramic vase that was on consignment to them. The damage was a hairline crack to the edge of the base. In these situations, restoration may not be the best option, as the market preference is to avoid alteration on minor damage. We agreed with the client and consignor to settle on a diminution of value basis. As there was no qualified appraiser available to take up the assignment, and because of an urgency to settle the claim, all parties agreed to a proposal of having two antique dealers inspect the damaged vase. Each dealer would separately suggest the percentage loss in value, then we would use the mean as the basis of settlement. In the end, both dealers came up with the exact same extreme percentage, which took everyone by surprise. They did not provide any reasoning or justification of their valuation, and were not obligated to. We had no option but to settle the claim accordingly. This experience motivated me to source an independent, transparent appraisal process for future claims in order to leave no party confused or suspicious. My research subsequently led me to ISA.

Attending ISA courses in Naperville turned out to be one of the best decisions I made for my career. First of all, it was achievable. I was able to start from scratch and complete the Core Course, the 15 Hour USPAP course and Fine Art course in three weeks. The courses were well structured, with visits to art museums and a printmaking studio. The classroom discussions were particularly lively and often based on real-life examples shared by fellow colleagues encountered in their daily businesses.

Coming home with my new credential, I was determined to spread the word and do what was necessary to promote good appraisal practices with the goal of raising overall personal property appraisal standards in the region. Using knowledge I gained through my ISA education, I was able to educate industry professionals and art collectors. I informed bankers and insurance professionals on what USPAP is and asked them to consider USPAP-compliant reports only for their insurance policies or lending out loans. For art collectors, I promote periodic appraisal as part of a good collection management program, together with a robust inventory system, maintaining good documentation of provenance and purchase records, a secure display/storage environment, and adequate insurance coverage. My message is that an appraisal report is essential for accounting and estate planning purposes, or if one wishes to secure loans using their art collection as collateral.

Lecture at Art Taipei Forum 2017

My ISA education helped me a great deal in improving communication with our claimants. Although I would not perform appraisal on damage claims that I directly handle, I could use my knowledge to guide loss adjusters to look for the correct data and comparables, seek opinions from the right experts to determine the settlement offer amount, as well as make sure their communication with the client is clear and appropriate. I demand that the loss adjusters demonstrate clearly how they arrive at the settlement offer. There are always brokers or clients who are dissatisfied with the offers, yet there has never been any complaint on the communication or lack of transparency since. Also, we’ve seen a significant drop in claim disputes for my department and my company was able to highlight our claims service as a selling point for our insurance products. I’ve also noticed in places where there is no local law governing personal property appraisal, highlighting USPAP and the ISA Code of Ethics always provide confidence to clients in knowing that the appraisals are being conducted in a responsible manner.

I would advise fellow appraisers living outside of the USA to try to attend courses on site or attend the ISA annual conference, Assets. One can feel isolated sometimes due to having few peers in the market, and for our profession, it is important to build a network of experts of different backgrounds and knowledge. Attending ISA courses or the Annual Conference is a great way to tap into the vast experience of fellow appraisers, and from my experience, they are always happy to share.

Khadinn Khann, ISA AM, is an appraiser based on Hong Kong and has been a member of ISA since 2016. To learn more about ISA membership, visit the ISA website.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Revisiting the ISA Dealer Directory

Christine Guernsey,
At Assets 2018, we announced the new ISA Dealer Directory. This new directory connects prominent invited and vetted antique, jewelry, and fine and decorative arts dealers with our qualified ISA appraisers across the United States and Canada. The purpose of the Directory is to provide ISA appraisers and dealers with opportunities to facilitate appraisals, acquisitions, and the disposition of fine and decorative art as well as antiques and jewelry. This directory is a subscription-based service for dealers and gives free access of the postings to all ISA members.

The ISA Dealer Directory is an exclusive ISA member benefit. Only ISA members and subscribed vetted dealers have access to the Directory. It is completely private and not accessible to other appraisal organizations, non-subscribed dealers, or individuals. The directory is the first of its kind to be created by a professional appraisal organization.

The directory provides many unique benefits for our membership. Most importantly, the directory introduces our appraising members to leading dealers across the US and Canada. Using the directory, appraisers will discover top dealers along with the areas of collecting and selling in which they specialize. This creates opportunities to meet and build relationships with these featured dealers.

Whether we are in search of replacement cost information or have general questions about an artist, creator, movement, or market trends, working with dealers directly can give our appraisers access to current information they wouldn't normally find researching online. Asking price information for works in galleries or works which will be sold privately, usually isn't listed publicly. Calls have to be made to acquire this type of information. Dealers unfamiliar with an appraiser are often hesitant or too busy to share this type information. In becoming known as a qualified ISA appraiser and developing relationships with dealers who specialize in what you are appraising, you can gain valuable information about sales and market trends, discover unpublished asking prices and learn about private sales which will elevate the credibility in the final valuations of your appraisal reports. This alone can help you stand out among your appraisal competition.

Knowing which dealers specialize in specific areas of collecting and what items they are looking to acquire helps our appraisers add another service to their appraisal practice. Often appraisers are in the front line of knowing when their clients are thinking about selling something from their collection. This is especially true when we do estate appraisal or work with a client who has recently inherited something that they don't particularly want to keep.

There are many options for disposing of an item. Often these many options are confusing to the client especially if they are unfamiliar with collecting. Being able to connect your client with an appropriate dealer who can offer a fair deal, adds additional service for your client. The client is able to dispose of an item in an efficient and private manner, often for a higher sale amount and without additional fees. A successful transaction will make your client very satisfied with your services.

If you have clients who are interested in selling an item, be sure to log into the ISA member site and check out the Dealer Directory. Dealer requests change often. Our list of dealers continues to grow. If you know of a dealer you feel should be included in the Directory, please let us know so we can send them an invitation.

- Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP, is recent past president of ISA and currently serving on the ISA Board of Directors. She appraises all areas of American paintings, works on paper, sculpture, and outdoor sculpture, specializing in 19th and 20th centuries.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Announcing Your 2018-2019 Board of Directors

Voting for ISA's 2018-2019 Board of Directors has ended and we would like to congratulate our recently elected members! Joining the Board of Directors for a three-year term are three new additions, pictured left to right:

Tara Ana Finley, ISA AM
Helen de Rohan, ISA AM
Irene Szylinger, ISA AM

These three members will join the six returning members of the Board of Directors for the 2018-2019 year:

Hughene Acheson, ISA AM
Michelle Conliffe, ISA CAPP
Monica Fidel, ISA CAPP
Perri Guthrie, ISA CAPP
Rob Hittel, ISA CAPP
Fred Winer, ISA CAPP

ISA would like to especially thank our three retiring members who are concluding their term on the board in October, all of whom have generously contributed countless hours of dedicated service to the ISA:

Christine Guernsey, ISA CAPP
Suzanne Sellers Houck, ISA CAPP
Terry L. Oldham, ISA AM

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

What Appraisers Can Learn From the Expanding Global Art Market

The following is a sponsored post by ISA Affinity Business Partner (ABP), Learn more about the ABP membership.

While planning a marketing and relationship-building trip to Art Dubai 2018, Find Art Experts received a personal invitation by Emirati and French representatives of the Louvre Abu Dhabi to attend a presentation titled A Unique Cross-Cultural Collaboration. The invitation represents an important turning point for international recognition of America's art appraisal community.

Find Art Experts visited Art Dubai as part of its global expansion plans to introduce American appraisers to the Middle Eastern art market. Future marketing endeavors on the part of Find Art Experts include visits and meetings during Art Basel in America at Miami Beach in December 2018, Italy's Venice Biennale in May 2019, and a return to Art Dubai in March 2019. We are making our presence known in these markets and art fairs to open our 15,000-member database to markets all over the globe.

Appraisers in America may be surprised to learn that reaching global markets is not as daunting as it initially seems. Like any endeavor, there are steps to take and pitfalls to avoid. We learned:
  • Marketing to a global customer base can cost a lot of time and money
  • The right help can slash the time it takes to educate consumers about your service
  • Focusing on markets that provide the best return on a minimal investment is a good strategy
  • To avoid chasing too many opportunities and to stay true to our service
  • The importance of educating ourselves about a region's cultural heritage and the unique needs of a new clientele
Our trip to the United Arab Emirates was dedicated to learning more about these challenges and it was extremely informative.

Art Appreciation and Collecting is Blossoming in the Middle East

While attending Art Dubai, we also decided to plan a road trip and drive from Dubai straight to the Louvre Abu Dhabi. We quickly discovered that along the way there was no need to play any road trip games like the childhood favorite, "I Spy" to keep us entertained.

Much to our delight and amazement, a drive-by "highway gallery" sits in the middle of the desert alongside the 85-mile stretch of busy road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Before arriving at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, we were able to view three important works from the museum collection showcased on 30 by 20 foot billboards.

We didn't have to squint an eye to see masterworks such as Vincent van Gogh's Self Portrait, the sarcophagus of Egyptian princess Henuttaway, and Piet Mondrian's Composition With Blue, Red, Yellow and Black. To enhance the experience, you can tune to an Emarat radio station to hear a 30-second description of each work of art from a curator. All this without even shelling out a single dirham!

Louvre Abu Dhabi was born from a unique intergovernmental agreement between the United Arab Emirates and France. The agreement embodies a vision shared by France and Abu Dhabi to develop the first universal museum in the Arab world. It has invaluable access to expertise and training from 17 French partner institutions, as well as loans of 300 significant works from 13 leading French art museums, such as the Musee du Louvre, Centre Pompidou, Musee d'Orsay, Musee Rodin, and the Chateau de Versailles.

This initiative, in collaboration with the Department of Culture and Tourism, was created "to reinforce the role of art in elevating everyday life into something beautiful and memorable." It indicates a sea change in how the region sees art for aesthetic and investment purposes.

Louvre Abu Dhabi's Gift to the World: A Da Vinci Masterpiece Revealed

One of the most rare and lavish gifts from an art museum to the public will be unveiled later this year at the museum: Salvador Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci. The painting sold last year at Christie's New York for a record $459.3 million by Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism. It will be exhibited until October 24, 2019, after which time it will be loaned to the Musee du Louvre in Paris.

Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Culture Department Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak remarked that Salvador Mundi, which has been hidden from view for so long, "Is now our gift to the world - it belongs to all of us."

One striking observation during our tour of Louvre Abu Dhabi was how women play an integral role in the pieces on display. Featured throughout the 600 pieces shown, women can be viewed in a variety of forms: painted in exquisite portraiture, encased in sarcophagi, and formed in sculpture.

La Belle Ferronnaire, one of Leonardo da Vinci's less than twenty known surviving paintings, is among the high-profile loans made to the museum. The painting is one of the many "Ladies of the Louvre" worth viewing when visiting the museum.

The museum provides a fascinating link between Leonardo and Bellini, a painter whose technique he admired. Madonna and Child is an oil on panel painted between 1480 and 1485. Considered the father of Renaissance painting, Bellini specialized in devotional paintings. This piece depicts the Christ child sitting on a parapet atop the Madonna's scarlet robes, gazing up at her as she looks lovingly down on him, her hands in prayer position.

Another female subject on loan to Louvre Abu Dhabi from the Collection Centre Pompidou, is Albert Giacometti's Standing Woman II, c. 1959-1960. With its rough surface and elongated frame, the Surrealist Swiss artist's figure embodies one of his traditional subject matters, the unclothed female form.

Contemporary Women of the Arab Art World

The depiction of Arab women in art is a recent phenomenon, as explained in this New York Times article. One of many important Arab women artists who caught our attention is Thuraya Al-Baqsamiwho was born in Kuwait in 1951. In 1956, Thuraya was sent to the Choueifat boarding school in Lebanon, however she returned to Kuwait as a civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1958.

In 1974, she moved to Moscow. She enrolled in the Surikov Institute, one of Russia's most renowned art universities, and eventually completed her Bachelor's and Master's degrees there. Her exposure to a Russian art training was extremely beneficial. She was taught that being an artist was a profession, and that she should view her work as legitimate labor, a revolutionary idea for her at the time. Having that mindset lit a spark, and motivated her to tackle her work with a much more dedicated attitude. She learned various graphic printmaking techniques, namely lithograph and linocut that greatly affected her creative output. Later in life, her work became best known for these graphic techniques, which were virtually unheard of in the Arab world.

Her work presents a strong voice in the region, one that does not bow down to the societal and political pressures it faces. Her idiosyncratic background and multi-cultural exposure creates a mélange of histories, concepts, and forms in her works that are still ever changing and evolving today.

How Appraisers Can Reach Global Markets

Collector interest in artwork by Thuraya and other emerging Arab female artists will only increase. As the number of wealthy collectors in America and in other countries escalates, so has their need for the advice of specialists to help curate and service these collections in many different ways.

Art market data shows that 66% of collectors are turning to galleries or dealers to purchase art and luxury accessories. 52% of collectors seeking advice on a purchase or art services turned to an industry expert and 14% sought advice from auction experts.

Few appraisers and art service professional businesses are making this investment, but Find Art Experts considers it a priority. Last year our database consisted of 5,000 members and we have added an additional 10,000 since. This expert database is gaining international notoriety. We recently assisted the Saudi-based Arab News, the Middle East's newspaper of record and the biggest English language daily in the Kingdom, seeking one of our Art Service Professionals on authenticating art.

This is just one example why Find Art Experts believes it is crucial for appraisers and fine art experts to continue opening new markets. While marketing our client base in high-wealth, art-centric cities we learned the time is right to reach international markets to:
  1. Diversify for the long term. We believe it is important to increase an appraiser's influence in markets outside the United States.
  2. Smooth market fluctuations. Appraisers can stabilize seasonal market fluctuations by working with clients with different or even countercyclical art market demand. For example, while June, July and August means North American art collectors focus on family vacations rather than acquiring art, the art market for Australian collectors is perfect as they wait out their season's three coldest months of the year.
  3. Become a leader. U.S. appraisers have a unique opportunity right now to be the first to create relationships in an increasingly shrinking and interconnected global marketplace.
  4. Advocate excellence. Appraisers capable of international expansion comprise the majority of Find Art Experts' database.
Meeting collectors and dealers, we learned the need for art service professionals is also expanding in new and important collecting categories. Look for Find Art Experts at International Society of Appraisers meetings and conventions as we work with fellow professionals to find cost-effective ways to building a stronger online presence to reach these growing markets. Viewing the world as one marketplace that needs our advice and services helps all of us all build a stronger, brighter future.