How an Artwork's Condition Can Affect Its Value

This is the second in a series of articles written in collaboration with eBay to help introduce their new live auctions-- auctions that take place simultaneously on eBay and at established American bricks & mortar auction houses. These articles talk about various aspects of bidding and buying art at auction, no matter where those auctions happen or what the circumstances of the sales might be. This article has to do with the condition of art and how important condition is as a determinant of value....


Let's say you see a work of art for sale at a live auction that you really like. Do you simply read the auction house description, look at the presale price estimate to see whether you can afford it, and then go ahead and bid if it's in your price range. Or is there more to it than that? If you answered "more to it," you're absolutely right.

One of the most important things to check before deciding whether or not to bid is the art's condition. When it comes to determining how much a work of art is reasonably worth, condition matters big time. The best of all possible worlds is that the art is in original untouched unrestored condition-- which plenty of art is-- and has not been altered in any way since the day it was created. Collectors often pay a premium price for that.

However if the art has had restoration or conservation work done, or it has condition problems and needs to be restored, you want to get an idea of what kinds and how much damage or restoration you're dealing with because damage, whether repaired or not, can affect value. For example, if a painting has had its surface cleaned in order to brighten it up, that generally has little impact on value. But if the art has been damaged and restored in more significant ways, value can sometimes be impacted substantially...

To read the complete article, go here.

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