A process for understanding the value of your possessions that goes beyond just numbers

Adopting a different, insightful approach to valuing your treasured possessions offers more than simply knowing what they are worth. We explore an in-depth method that better reflects the next generation's shift in values and goes beyond “What is the market value of these assets?”

What you need to know

  • When it comes to discerning the value of the things we own, it’s more nuanced than a simple appraisal. By approaching the process of valuing possessions differently, there’s an opportunity to discover more than just what it’s worth.
  • This paves the way for a better appreciation of these belongings and can contribute to successful estate planning and wealth transfer for the next generation.
  • As the values of the next generation shift, there’s more demand to assess these possessions in a way that goes beyond their market value.
Foresight Updated on October 21, 2022

Creating value with the end in mind

According to Aristotle, the ideal end of everything we do is happiness. It is ultimately for the sake of happiness, that we desire all other objects or experiences.  Thus, the quintessence of value should be aimed at achieving what the Greeks called eudaimonia, ‘human flourishing’ and prosperity.  If this is the end we aspire to, then this should be the first step to understanding the true value of our possessions.

Here’s an example: an art dealer in San Francisco was approached by a young Italian client who had asked for an appraisal of a Rembrandt painting.  After the appraisal, the dealer, assuming his client would be interested in selling it, assured him that he could get a very good price for it.  To his surprise, however, the client responded that the painting had been in his family for generations and he had no intention of selling it. The question we could ask is, what value would that family gain by selling the painting and converting it to money, compared to the value they could lose if they kept it?

We have come to conflate the value of something with its market value. But, we all know that the law of supply and demand can be deceptive, often having nothing to do with real worth.  An object of great personal value may be cheaply priced or vice versa.  Making market value our beginning point, instead of our endpoint, is like mounting a bike backwards to move forward.

About the Authors

Matina Agio

Matina Agio

Art & inheritance management

Matina Agio is an art and heritage consultant for family offices and ultra-high-net-worth individuals.

Connect with Matina Agio

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