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Fine Art/RE: Harrison Fisher Watercolor


Hello Dolly;
I received the written appraisal in the mail today, it is quite comprehensive. It is a real Fisher Painting a "Study" most likely given to Babe Ruth's wife. The appraiser did not delve into the fact the "Mae Merritt's" (Babe Ruth's Wife) name was on it, but only based it on being a real Fisher painting. It was interesting to read his overview of it. It was appraised at $10,000 as replacement value, or for insurance purposes only. It signed and notorarized and such, all official.
Ok my question is, since this amount $10,000 is for insurance purposes only, can I use this as a reference if I wanted to sell it at some time, this is only for this year as well. In other words, I know an auction house would get a lot less, but lets say a gallery wanted to purchase it, is 50% of this value a good start? Anyway I think I will keep it for a long while, it does need to be cleaned ($75) and I only paid $100 or so dollars for it on Ebay. Thanks so much, Jim.  

Hello Jim,

I hope all is well with you and congratulations on your Harrison Fisher. The “insurance value” of appraised art is generally representative of the dollar amount an insurance company is asked to pay if the art is severely damaged, destroyed, or stolen. It normally represents an estimated full retail amount plus miscellaneous expenses to repair or replace the art and is therefore a higher value than the retail price the art would sell for at a gallery. In answer to your question; the authentication and appraisal you received on your Fisher painting qualifies your asking price whether wholesale or estimated retail. Of course, we both know that the actual value of the art is whatever a collector is willing to pay.

If and when you are interested in selling the painting, you can select several ways of marketing the piece. As you mentioned; auction houses sell at prices considered wholesale and depending on the house, may take 20-25% of the sale price.

Most retail galleries do not purchase art from private collectors and instead get most of this kind of work from established art brokers who are willing to take legal responsibility for the work they sell to retail galleries. This is very important to galleries, especially highly reputable ones that will not risk their entire business and credibility on art that is suspect or that they are not completely convinced will withstand any legal challenge to its authenticity and value.

Some galleries will take art on consignment, but usually only if they already carry work by that artist and the consignment piece complements work they have for sale. The idea is that it brings interest to the collectors of that particular artist and it gives them the opportunity to attract buyers for the other work they have from that artist. Generally if a gallery is in a “high rent” district, their wall space is very expensive and they prefer to use that space on art that gives them the highest return on investment. The gallery would likely tell you what they believe they can list it at and negotiate a commission percentage with you. The higher the value of the piece; usually the lower the percentage they will charge. A gallery also has the added expense of consultant commissions which could add an additional 10-20% to the sales cost. Some galleries may offer to purchase the painting at a negotiated wholesale cost.

You may want to keep an eye open for museum or gallery showings of Harrison Fisher art. You can loan your painting for an exhibition and this will add further qualification and value for your painting. Inclusion in a major gallery exhibition or show of the artist, style, movement, etc; will give you exposure to the collector market for your painting as well. In your case, your painting would find interest in exhibitions of Fisher; American magazine illustrators, (Fisher, Christy, Gibson); and uniquely in sports related art, (due to its connection to Babe Ruth), to name a few.

Another avenue is to contact reputable art brokers who have collectors interested in your artist or style of work. These commissions are negotiable as well and should be less than retail.

We have discussed this before, but you may want to list it in an online secondary art market website that gets good traffic. In this venue, you can list it for whatever you want for the piece and see if you get offers. If you are not in a hurry to sell, this is what I would do so that the painting gets the greatest exposure to collectors. These online galleries will either take commissions or ask for a flat listing fee.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if you have further questions.

Best regards,

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Dolly D Headley


I can assist with identification, acquisition, sell representation, and care of fine art prints and original paintings. Some of my artist specialties include Henri Toulouse Lautrec, California Artists, and the Modern Masters. I can also assist with information on getting professional appraisals and authentication.


Dolly D. Headley, owner of Headley Fine Art, LLC, has provided consultative art services to retail gallery clients in Sausalito, CA, and at since 1998. With over 14 years experience as a Senior Art Consultant, Gallery Director, and an extensive art research library; Ms. Headley has provided hundreds of people with her high quality personalized consultation services and solid guarantee of satisfaction. Dolly is a volunteer at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Member of the Association of Online Appraisers.

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Bachelor of Science; Self taught with thousands of hours research and retail gallery consulting. Personalized mentorship from various experts in the industry.

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