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How Much Is It Worth?

How Much Is It Worth?

“What do you know about it?” the first person in line is asked. The others, with grimly pursed lips, nervously await their turns to have valuables appraised.

“Does it have a pair?” appraiser Helaine Fendelman and her associate Sheri Mason, two well-known fine art and antique appraisers headquartered in Gramercy Park, ask. “Do you like it?” Their questions serve the purpose of providing answers –- more specifically, monetary ones. “You’ll get answers,” Fendelman assures. “You might not like them, but you’ll get them.”

The "Antiques Roadshow"-styled event, held on November 19th at Zelda’s Art World in Midwood, Brooklyn, was a fundraiser for the Cindy Turkeltaub Cancer Support Fund at Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

About two dozen collectors attended, each with the hope that their piece would turn out to be valuable. Examining a tattered oil painting from the early-20th century, Fendelman sweeps her fingers to the painting’s edge, a magnifying lens in her hand. “Unfortunately this piece is not of much value –- it would cost more to restore it than it’s actually worth. I wish I had more fortunate news,” she notes after examining an antique painting presumed by its owner to be valuable. Surprisingly, many collectors are not disparaged by such answers. “Whatever its worth,” says one high-spirited collector, “I like the piece regardless.”

“Good!” calls Fendelman. “That’s the reason why you should buy things!”

As collectors present their work, Fendelman and Mason check the piece’s artist (if applicable) through a database to come up with a precise dollar value for the work. Further aspects taken into consideration in approximating a work’s value are mainly age, condition of work, condition of framing, serialized production (vs. original), and completeness of a set’s pieces (if applicable).

“These mountains are too mountainy,” Fendelman, past president of the Appraisers Association of America and author who has appeared on "Antiques Roadshow," remarks as she examines a wood carved lithograph of what was assumed to be the Hudson Valley. “And these trees, I just don’t think they’re New Yorky. It all doesn’t look right.”

“Aha! I knew it,” she adds once the artist’s ambiguous signature was decoded and matched. “The work is British.”

Zelda’s Art World is home to a retail store, an art school, a custom frame shop and a ceramics studio. They’re passionate about people who are passionate about art.

Yaakov Bressler is a local Brooklyn artist and writer who currently attends Brooklyn College in pursuit of entry into medical school.

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