Are These Warhol-signed Items Valuable?
January 30, 2012 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I have a few items which were signed by Andy Warhol in the early 80s and I don't know if they're worth having professionally appraised. Such an appraisal would cost some $$ and it wouldn't be worth it for items of negligible value. So I need your best amateur Antiques Roadshow advice on if any or all of these things have a value sufficient to warrant a professional appraisal. Here's the list:

1. Signed album cover of the 1967 release Velvet Underground & Nico (mid-70s re-release, so no peelable banana).

2. Signed interior of album of the 1971 release Andy Warhol's Velvet Underground Featuring Nico album. This is a double album and Warhol signed the inside illustration and added his own small doodle.

3. Signed Marilyn Monroe Tate Poster
posted by Jamesonian to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
Good news: it looks like Warhol's autograph is fairly valuable. The appraisal might be worth the cost.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:20 PM on January 30, 2012

Note that FoB's link reads: The autograph values within the index are for genuine, fully authenticated items, of museum grade quality.
posted by Ardiril at 12:25 PM on January 30, 2012

Why is the professional appraisal of value to you at all?

In general, appraisals are used for tax purposes if you donate these items to a non-profit, and for insurance purposes (so you know how much to insure the objects for). In the former case, the institution should be able to advise you about the advisability of an appraisal (under $5k in the US and you don't need to give the IRS proof, so an appraisal wouldn't be worth it). In the latter case, you'd be spending money on insurance so you might as well do your own research and slightly over-estimate -- the difference in insurance cost for things of this value (under $50k) is going to be negligible.

If you want to sell them and need to know how much you might get, the venue with which you consign them has a vested interest in giving you the most accurate and highest reasonable value estimate they can -- because they want a chunk of the profit.

If there's a reason I haven't thought of, I apologize, but your question as phrased doesn't make sense to this art historian/museum professional. (Note that I am not a tax advisor or lawyer or professional appraiser, and none of this constitutes my professional opinion. Since, apart from anything else, you didn't give us much to go on in terms of condition, etc.)
posted by obliquicity at 12:29 PM on January 30, 2012

Interestingly, as I learned when working at an auction house that had the occasional Warhol artwork, authenticating any artwork by Warhol is contentious. Actually, it's nuts. His signature is not much easier to help authenticate something - not just that often it's a stamp, and that for a time others were reproducing and signing his work - but because it's often about why he signed something, be it a print or anything that represented his work, as much as what he signed. Appraisers are really, really, really careful about Warhols, and not just any art appraiser has an opinion that will be respected by others down the road. Precisely because of all the damage previous official attempts to authenticate Warhols has wrought, tread carefully and yes, figure out what you hope to achieve with this endeavor before you begin. Providing any provenance will help immensely, so having that in order will help.
posted by peagood at 12:50 PM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

museum grade quality

That's sort of a bullshit designation and the fact that guy uses the phrase makes me kind of doubt his entire site. Museums don't collect things based on any kind of "grade," or "museum quality," and it's unclear what this ever means.

I have no way of knowing the value, but I wouldn't trust any source that described value that way, so seek another source.
posted by Miko at 1:58 PM on January 30, 2012

No location information in your profile. In NYC Doyle has a free appraisal day a few times a year. You can bring up to 3 items to have them appraised.

Check with a large public library in your area. New York Public has on-site access to P4A Antiques Reference Database, Artnet and Artfact, all of which I would recommend you search.
posted by mlis at 9:17 PM on January 30, 2012

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