Question: I bought a signed Jackson Pollock at a garage sale. I want to know if it’s real. And what’s it worth?
Authenticate vs. Appraise
The first question is about authenticity. The second is about value. Most people expect an appraiser to answer both questions. But that may not be realistic.
Of course, every appraiser knows how to determine value and can answer the second question. But not all are also trained to determine authenticity.
A fine arts appraiser, for example, can say how much the Jackson Pollock might fetch at auction, in a private sale, or if sold by a gallery. But most fine arts appraisers would rely on a museum, auction house or university expert to say whether the Pollock is real.
Gems & Jewelry
In contrast, most gems and jewelry appraisers hold dual credentials. They are expert, often certified gemologists who authenticate diamonds, gemstones and jewelry. Their gemological reports identify, classify and quantify. Switching hats, they appraise the same items, rendering opinions of value.
Authentication is Up to You
Before you ask an appraiser “What’s it worth?” check his training, experience, and credentials. Is he an expert on authenticity as well as value? If not, it’s up to you to have the item authenticated before getting it appraised.
In short, authenticate then appraise. Your Pollock could be priceless or worthless, depending on whether it’s real.