What’s it worth? Valuing your art and heirlooms

Are you thinking of selling an heirloom, artwork or collectable item? Are you looking for an accurate estimate for insurance purposes? Here are five ways to value your artwork,

The art world can be very daunting to outsiders with its specialist jargon, incomprehensible ‘artspeak’ and sensational news reports of paintings by international artists selling for millions of dollars. So how does a collector in South Africa who has gathered a small collection of special pieces or inherited a family heirloom go about valuing their treasured possessions?

“Some collectors approach us for an accurate appraisal of their art collection for insurance purposes”, says Wilhelm van Rensburg, senior art specialist at Strauss & Co, South Africa’s leading art auction house, “and others want to achieve the best possible price for their item by selling it on auction. And sometimes people are just curious about the origin of an heirloom and what it might be worth even if they have no intention of ever selling it”. The company offers free valuations of artworks and decorative art objects, in person or online, with no obligation to consign for sale.

Strauss & Co has a team of specialists who are experts in their field and it also draws on a wide network of conservators, academics and technical experts, both locally and internationally, to determine the value of an item and find out more about its provenance. Choosing the right auction house to appraise works gives owners peace of mind, knowing that they will receive a market-related assessment of the value of their art collection. And placing works on auction with the appropriate, well-considered estimates increases the likelihood of the work selling.

“We offer various appraisal methods to suit everyone’s taste”, continues Van Rensburg, “some of our clients prefer the convenience of a digital valuation that can be completed through our website, while others enjoy the personal contact of a face-to-face interaction with one of our specialists”.

5 Ways to Value your Artwork

Are you thinking of selling an heirloom, artwork or collectable item? Are you looking for an accurate estimate for insurance purposes? Strauss & Co offers free, no-obligation valuations:

  1. Submit your art online

Visit the company’s website at and complete the online valuation form, upload images of the artwork, and submit.

  1. Send e-mail to or

Include measurements and images of the item in your request for a valuation and a Strauss & Co specialist will get back to you.

  1. Submit via the app

Download the Strauss & Co app from the Apple and Google Play store on your smart device and follow the instructions to obtain an assessment of the value of your artwork.

  1. Attend a valuation day

The company regularly hosts valuation days at major centres throughout South Africa. Bring us your artwork or collectable item and a Strauss & Co specialist will provide an auction estimate.

  1. Make a face-to-face appointment

Strauss & Co has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Make an appointment for a face-to-face consultation with one of our specialists.

  1. Arrange a house visit

Strauss & Co’s art specialists do house visits for large collections, deceased estates and clients with high-value items. Contact the Johannesburg or Cape Town office to arrange a visit.

Johannesburg office

 Cape Town


Cover all the angles

Take clear, focused photos with your phone or camera to upload online or to the app. Take a photo of the artist’s signature, if there is one, and any numbers or labels on the work, as well as a photo of the back of the work.

Knowledge is power (and profit)

Submit as much information as possible – when and how did you obtain the item? Do you still have a purchase receipt or invoice? Has the item appeared in a newspaper article or in a book on the artist? Upload all relevant documentation or bring it with you if you have an appointment with an art specialist or are attending a valuation day.

Walter Battiss

Living Bush


Oil on canvas

R400 000 – 600 00

Sold for R 455 200, Strauss & Co, May 2021, lot  218

Jacob Hendrik Pierneef

House at Silverton


R 20 000 – 30 000

Sold for R 68 280, Strauss & Co, May 2021, lot  43

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