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Veritas Fine Art Appraisals & Consulting LLC

Veritas in Latin means “truth.” Individuals, museums, and companies looking to have their artwork appraised, seeking curatorial services, or have art consulting and conservation needs turn to Veritas Fine Art Appraisals & Consulting in Chicago.

Veritas performs research by experts who believe in revealing the truth about their pieces, so the client can find earnest knowledge.

Carrie Baker-Gough founded the consulting firm earlier this decade, and believes in a hands-on approach, while giving immediate, tangible expectations for clients.

“We look at what the client has—we evaluate it,” Baker-Gough says. “First off, we always offer the service of, ‘Show me what you have; and if you can send very good pictures, I can tell you if it’s worth your time.’”

It’s the honesty and professionalism that Veritas prides itself on that keeps the clients coming back. Unlike many other firms, Veritas does not charge clients a great amount of money if a piece or collection is not worth looking into.

If the work is something that can be sold in the current market, Baker-Gough and Veritas will begin the process.

“We always go look at the objects (and paintings). We’ll inventory them; we’ll inspect them,” says Baker-Gough. “We do market research, and then we help them sell the pieces.”

She adds they always talk to the client and tell them what they think the fair market value of the pieces is, and which is their best platform, whether it’s auction or a private sale.

Baker-Gough says that the challenge in selling for the consulting firm and clients is that it’s time-consuming.

“It’s not a quick sell. And, you have a lot of people these days who say, ‘I want to sell it quickly,’” Baker-Gough adds. These are expectations that aren’t always consistent in the art world. “A lot of people are selling (artwork) for less than they’re worth because they don’t know what to do with them, or they’re not in the right platform.”

Veritas performs a wide range of appraisals and services on artwork, including sculptures.

“Sculptures can be tougher because the materials are much harder to date, and, also you’re dealing with recasting—where it may not be an original mold. Again, you really want someone saying if it’s a contemporary sculpture, as opposed to something by Rodin, where there’s all kind of data on his casting, and posthumously what was allowed.”

Baker-Gough says they do find it easier to sell more traditional paintings such as modern landscapes and Idealistic and Impressionistic themes.

Veritas does move more paintings. And with today’s economy, Baker-Gough sees many collectors selling their artwork and liquidating.

Allegory of Truth

They have watched this trend as first-hand observers. “We’ve made that transition as well,” Baker-Gough says. “What’s really important is you don’t want to do formal appraisals for items that you’re selling. You’ve got to make it clear to the client, ‘If you need an appraisal—you’re looking for something for tax purposes, for insurance—then it’s an appraisal; it’s a completely objective approach. Whereas if your trying to sell this then I can’t act as an appraiser for you. I’m your broker.’”

It’s in this salient distinction that Veritas gives their focus and honesty to clients.

“I still have many people out there who are donating this (artwork): ‘I need a tax appraisal.’ Or, ‘I need to insure this collection.’ I am getting a lot more random inquiries: ‘I have this painting; I’d like to know what it is.’ Sort of your ‘Antiques Road Show’ sort of thing—hoping they have something they can make some money with.”

Baker-Gough reiterated how selling a piece is not always a quick time frame, but Veritas can help expedite the process.

The firm is rooted in an educated, scholarly-tested expertise. Baker-Gough and others at Veritas are accredited with the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and conform to the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).

“These days with the technical revolution, information is readily on-hand,” Baker-Gough says apprehensively. “You get a lot of people with the ‘Web M.D. phobia.’ They’ll Google an artist’s name, and think they know everything about them. They think they know a lot about the market. Really, it still takes the knowledge of an art historical background to not only research, but to know the objects that you’re looking at.”

Baker-Gough says there are some good databases online that give you market data that you have to subscribe to. “We deal more with old master, modern paintings and prints, so you’re dealing with a lot history—authentication issues, historical issues. A lot of that still takes a scholarly approach. We want to relay that quality over to the client. To say, ‘If your collection applies, that’s the sort of approach we’re going to take.’”

Baker-Gough’s specialty is Italian Renaissance art, among the other genres too. Veritas does work in the international market, and her ease with the basics of the Italian language gives her an edge with clients or extracting information from overseas.

“I do use it (Italian) 20 percent of the time. I find myself needing to read some Italian text or call Italy—of course we deal with Europe all the time. These days, really the reading knowledge is more important than the speaking knowledge.”

Veritas wants to erase the unfamiliarity a client might have with their art and the process of selling and appraising. They even list pricing on their Web site—unheard of in the art appraisal world.

“So many people are thrown into the fire—say they inherit something—or know nothing about it (their artwork). I want to make them feel comfortable with the experience—this is what happens. Instead of calling someone and making it feel it’s an esoteric experience: ‘I’m going to do this for you and this is how much it’s going to cost.’

“I want to be very upfront with the clients and let them know what they’re going to be spending. I always direct proposals and informal contracts, and tell them, ‘This is going to take this many hours, but it’s not going to exceed this many hours.’ Transparency is very huge to me.”