Art Appraisal- Avoid the Scams! How to avoid getting ripped off on eBay or Craig’s List

What a great way to start off the new year! I was contacted by an art appraiser named Leah Tarlton. She is currently doing research on the subject of art appraisal and was wondering if I would be willing to do a short interview with her. I agreed and had a very nice conversation with her about art appraisal. For those of you who are interested in learning more about valuing vintage art, she has written an article that can be found here:

She also has a blog where she talks about this topic and many other topics that concern vintage collectors. The article can be found here:

There are a lot of ways to get ripped off when buying or selling art on eBay or Craig’s List. Learn how to avoid the most common scams by reading’s blog!

Art appraisal is an important part of the art trade, and it is also one of the most abused areas of that trade. Before you buy a painting online, find out how to avoid the most common scams by reading’s blog!

Many people who love art also love antiques. The problem is that this can prove to be a costly combination if they are not careful. Many sellers of antiques and vintage items are in it only for the money and will say anything to get you to buy their items. This is especially true on Craig’s List or eBay.

The problem with many people selling antiques and vintage items is that they do not know what they are talking about. They are just trying to make a quick sale and do not have the item appraised or certified by an expert.

Below, we will discuss some tips to help you avoid getting ripped off:

1) Always get an appraisal from a professional before buying any antique or vintage item.

2) Keep good records of all appraisals so that you have some proof in case someone tries to rip you off.

3) If you are selling something online, always ship it by registered mail so that you have a tracking number and signature required at delivery. Do not use UPS or Fed Ex because they will not provide insurance for your item unless you ship it by registered mail.

4) If you are buying something online without seeing it in person first, make sure that the seller has a good buyer rating and return

The art market is one of the most unregulated markets in the world. Auctions are not regulated by any governmental body and even if they were, it wouldn’t matter much. Too many countries still have no laws to protect buyers or sellers. As a result, it’s very easy to be ripped off on eBay or Craig’s List if you don’t know what you’re doing.

So how can you avoid getting ripped off?There are three simple rules that will help you avoid being scammed on eBay or Craig’s List:

Rule 1: Always pay with Paypal

PayPal offers buyer protection which means that if the item you receive is not as described, or is not what you ordered, they will refund your money and pay for return shipping. This prevents the scammer from keeping your money while they send you an empty box. There are other options including escrow services but these always result in high fees and usually do not offer any additional protection.

The only reason why sellers should be reluctant to sell using Paypal is because of their fees (which range from 3% to 10% depending on the size of the transaction). However, most reputable sellers would rather lose a few percent on fees than risk getting a bad review or losing future business altogether.


A buyer or seller may hope to get lucky and be sent a photograph of an artwork they are interested in. However, this is not how the art market works. Artworks are almost always sold depicting the actual item itself. This way, both buyers and sellers can ensure that the work is what it is supposed to be.

Artwork should be appraised by an experienced and reputable art appraiser who knows the market for your particular piece. It is also important to avoid buying art that has been stolen or looted from a country in war and sold on the black market for cheap prices. Luckily for collectors and investors, there are many online sites that can help you find and buy your favorite pieces.

Art that has been carefully and correctly stored and cared for over the years will not come out of hiding looking like it has been glued to a scrapbook page and left in a box in the garage for twenty years. It is generally not surprising if your painting is dirty on the back or if there are some small spots of discoloration on the front, but if you see what appear to be large stains on the front or back then you might want to consider having it professionally cleaned.

Tears and rips are fairly common with paintings that are old enough to have been rolled up. If they are not too serious, they can usually be repaired without too much problem. Stains, however, can be more difficult to repair, depending on what caused them and how extensive they are.

In the market for art, as in so many others, there is a lot of room for confusion and fraud. A great deal of this is due to ignorance. The person on the other end of the phone line may not know what they’re talking about.

A number of years ago I was trying to negotiate a purchase of a painting over the phone and the “seller” kept referring to it as a “drawing”. I finally got tired of this and asked her what she thought it was. She said that she thought it was probably a drawing because she had only seen it in black and white. It sounded to me like it might be an original piece by Goya but I didn’t want to make that kind of mistake, so I told her I’d rather see it in color before making an offer.

It turned out that the “painting” was just a print from an old calendar. When she saw that I wasn’t interested, she became very suspicious and defensive, which confirmed my suspicions about her ignorance and possible dishonesty.

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