Saturday, February 5, 2011


MIAMI, Florida - Owners of valuable items often call St. Lucie Appraisal to ask about our services. Some of the descriptions and stories about the items are fascinating. It is the nature of the business that we turn away more assignments than we accept though. Most of the time callers aren't purchasing, insuring or donating things - or divorcing or going bankrupt - rather, they are simply looking to sell. They don't need an appraiser, they need eBay.

This week I had the pleasure of meeting a Cuban-American family in Hialeah and viewing an oil painting of Jesus Christ. The painting had been purchased in post-war Europe by an uncle who brought it home but never attempted a restoration or tried to display it. The work of art had been passed down and the new owners were curious as to both it's value and origin. There was lore about it being an original Rembrandt or that it was painted in the 15th century. The family has wisely decided to insure it.

While most of the paintings and sculptures we appraise are identifiable through various avenues of research, others are so obscure as to have no references anywhere. So it was with this painting that had no kin in any library or online resource I searched. The painting style was definitely not Rembrandt. The canvas and what was left of the frame were many centuries old though. The paint and varnish was chipping and cracked. The canvas had become practically see-through along some of the edges. Only the top portion of the frame was still attached. The rest of the frame and stretcher bar was gone. This was a delicate piece, indeed, any nothing like we had ever seen before.

How do we appraise an item that gives no indication of origin and has no verifiable comparables? As businessmen our time is valuable but ethics also prevents us from taking money under false pretenses. The family decided to pay us a minimum fee for the inspection and subsequent research which included a telephone call to The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC who agreed to identify the painting.

Once their assessment is complete we'll have an idea of what to do next. I am hoping that it turns out to be of interest to a museum or collector and very, very valuable. Everyone has read a story about a priceless work of art that had been valued at only a few thousand dollars by some appraiser somewhere. At The St. Lucie Appraisal Company, we try to make absolutely certain that story will never be about us.

The St. Lucie Appraisal Company
P.O. Box 2700
Fort Pierce, FL 34954
Phone: (772) 359-4300
Fax: (772) 466-8400


Keywords for this article: antiques, APPRAISAL, APPRAISER, art, bankruptcy, divorce, donations, eBay, FLORIDA, hialeah, insurance, Miami, St Lucie Appraisal,  work of art

Revised 09-04-2012
Updated 06-20-2013