The title was “Salvator Mundi,” and the artist was Leonardo da Vinci. It sold at Christie’s Auction in New York in 2017 for an incredible $450.3 million.
Granted, most of us don’t have any da Vincis collecting dust in our attic. But if you do have some older portraits lying around, you might be wondering, “How much is my painting worth?”
Are your old paintings worth money? Here’s how to find out.
Before we discuss different types of paintings and portraits, here are some important questions to ask.
There are numerous online resources to help you identify whether your painting is a copy. You can also compare the signature with an online database of known artists’ signatures.
Now that you’ve done an initial investigation, let’s take a look at the most common types of paintings and portraits.
When it comes to selling antique furniture, oil paintings are among the most popular–and valuable–items.
An original oil painting will have a rich, shiny look and a feeling of depth. It’s most commonly found on canvas or paper, but you may also see it on glass, wood, or ivory.
How can you tell if your oil portrait is an original or a print? Look for brushstrokes that indicate an original piece. Even high-quality prints have tell-tale “dots” if you look under a magnifying glass.
Of all the mediums, it’s most difficult to tell the difference between an original watercolor and a reproduction.
Look for varying depths of brushstrokes, preliminary pencil marks, or bare spaces with no paint. All of these are signs of an original watercolor.
Pastels provide rich, vibrant colors in a painting. Soft pastels have a powdery look, while oil pastels appear thicker and shinier.
Pastels were commonly used during the Renaissance period in Europe. They were also favored by the 19th-century French Impressionists.
If you have an original pastel portrait from either of these eras, it could be very valuable.
While less common, etchings can also fetch a handsome sum if it’s the work of a known artist.
Etchings are made by scratching an image into a coated metal plate. The plate is dipped into acid before it’s inked and printed onto paper.
Many well-known artists have experimented with etching, so it’s worth getting a proper appraisal.
What if you’ve tried the tips outlined above and you still need help? A pawn shop may not be the first place you think of, but there are compelling reasons to do so.
First of all, pawnbrokers are skilled at evaluating the value of antique items–including paintings. They can study your painting with a knowledgeable eye and tell you if it’s an original, who the artist is, and what it’s worth.
Another benefit of pawning your art is it’s a much faster way to get cash. The streamlined process means you could walk out with cash in hand the same day.
Something else to consider is selling your paintings through a pawn shop. You’ll agree to the selling price before it goes up for sale. In many cases, it’s possible to get the full value–or very close to it.
Click here to learn more about pawning high-end paintings and other art.
Determining the value of a painting is both a science and an art. There’s no “one” easy method–it takes a combination of factors and knowing what to look for.
Still wondering, “How much is my painting worth?” The most logical step is to contact a professional art appraiser. He or she will be able to give you a ballpark estimate on your painting’s value.
Another option is to list your painting through an online pawn shop. Pawnbrokers can then study your painting and make you an offer.
David Stiebel is one of the cofounders of PawnGuru. David was educated at MIT, where he studied Math. He subsequently worked at Bain as a data scientist before starting PawnGuru in 2015. He started PawnGuru to build a better tool for pawn shops and consumers to connect.More Articles