Understanding the value of your prized artwork

Published Mar 12, 2024


The art world can sometimes feel completely daunting, with its complex terminology, indecipherable "artspeak," and sensational headlines about paintings fetching millions of rands and dollars.

For collectors in South Africa who have assembled a cherished collection or inherited a family heirloom, the question of valuing these prized possessions can be particularly overwhelming.

How does one determine the value of one’s artworks and ensure they are adequately insured or sold at the best possible price?

Wilhelm van Rensburg, Senior Art Specialist at Strauss & Co, Africa’s leading auction house, sheds light on this, "Some collectors approach us for an accurate appraisal of their art collection for insurance purposes. Others seek to achieve the best possible price by selling their items at auction. And occasionally, individuals are simply curious about the origins and value of an artwork, even if they have no intention of ever parting with it." Strauss & Co offers free and confidential valuations of artworks and decorative art objects, in person or online, with no obligation to consign for sale.

With a team of specialists who are experts in their respective fields, Strauss & Co also taps into a vast network of conservators, academics, and technical experts both locally and internationally.

This collaborative approach enables them to accurately assess the value of an item and uncover its provenance. Provenance is hugely important as it establishes the chain of ownership back to its creation date.

It considers for whom the piece was commissioned, and whether it has featured in any important art exhibitions. Art validators use provenance to establish the authenticity and value of an artwork.

Choosing the right auction house to appraise works provides owners with peace of mind, knowing that they will receive a market-related assessment of their art collection's value. By placing works on auction with well-considered estimates, the likelihood of a successful sale is increased

Van Rensburg highlights the various valuation methods available at Strauss & Co, "Some of our clients prefer the convenience of a digital valuation that can be completed through our website, while others enjoy the personal contact of a face-to-face interaction with one of our specialists."

Ways to have your artworks valued:

Submit your art online:

Visit the Strauss & Co website at www.straussart.co.za and fill out the online valuation form. Upload clear images of the artwork and submit the form.

Send an email:

Send an email to [email protected] or [email protected], including measurements and images of the item for a valuation. A Strauss & Co specialist will respond to your request.

Book an in-person appointment:

If you prefer a personal consultation, you can schedule an appointment with one of Strauss & Co's specialists at their offices in Johannesburg or Cape Town.

Attend a valuation day:

Strauss & Co regularly hosts valuation days throughout South Africa. Bring your artwork or collectible item, and a Strauss & Co specialist will provide an auction estimate.

Additionally, for large collections, deceased estates, or high-value items, Strauss & Co's art specialists are available to conduct house visits. To arrange a visit contact:

Johannesburg Office: Tel: 011 728 8246

Email: [email protected]

Cape Town Office: Tel: 021 683 6560

Email: [email protected]

When submitting your artwork for valuation take clear, focused photos with your phone or camera from all angles. Include images of the artist's signature, if visible, as well as any numbers or labels on the artwork. It is also important to include photographs of the back of the artwork.

Any information you can provide about your artwork is will assist in assigning a value to your artwork.

Provide as much information as possible, including when and how you obtained it. Do you still possess the purchase receipt or invoice? Has the artwork appeared in a newspaper article or a book about the artist? Do you have any information about its exhibition history? Upload any relevant documentation or bring it with you when attending an appointment with an art specialist or valuation day.

Remember, whether you are looking to insure your collection, sell an artwork, or simply satisfy your curiosity, Strauss & Co offers a range of valuation methods tailored to your needs. By taking advantage of their expertise, you can navigate the often-intimidating art world with confidence and ensure your treasured possessions receive the recognition and value they deserve.

To view upcoming auctions and events: www.straussart.co.za