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Chapter 7 of Artful Dodgers: Fraud and Foolishness in the Art Market is titled WHAT’S WRONG WITH APPRAISERS ?  I’m finishing the final polish on the book, but today I had reason to ask myself that question again. I picked up a new telephone book that had been left at my gate. I live at the end of a one mile dirt road in Apache Canyon outside of Santa Fe. Very rural. Very beautiful. FedEx, UPS, newspaper deliveryman and phonebook delivery people hang items on the gate in plastic bags, stuff them under the juniper bush or just drop them where I’ll see them when I leave or return.

When I got up to the house, I looked in the yellow pages for APPRAISERS. Not surprising, is it? I used to be the only game in town, but that’s no longer true. I was astounded to see that there are 18 listings for personal property and/or art appraisers. One is a business that also appraises real estate! Many are galleries and others are private individuals. Of them all, there are three of us who have certification from professional societies. Only three. I have seen reports and heard testimony from the other two that caused me to tell their stories in Artful Dodgers under the “Appraisal Fraud” heading. All of the other so-called appraisers are not trained, tested and certified!!!!

How is the public to know who is real and who is not? Some “appraisers” are “certified” by mail-order certification “societies” that do not train and test members. They still get initials to put after their names. It’s a very sad state of affairs and strengthens my contention in Artful Dodgers that it’s too late for the real appraisal societies to build a true profession of appraisers. There are just too many fake ones who don’t know how to do a real appraisal. Who do you think suffers when something goes wrong?