Valuable Exquisite 150 Year Old Painting Destroyed by Careless Handling and Shipping

Wonderful detail of a jewel-like valuable painting… extensively damaged because of stupidity.

Damage to artwork from careless handling, lousy packing and then shipping is completely avoidable… and you’d think that an exquisitely painted, $75,000.00 valued oil painting would automatically be treasured and cared for!

This extensive damage which resulted from lack of care had to NOT be a surprise to the owner as previous flaking, painting restoration and probably active, continued flaking were undoubtedly evident. But, now, the damage and losses are catastrophic.

The quality valuable frame is a casualty also; its very nicely carved wood, not made of plaster from a mold. It had to have been brutally smashed to have been broken the way it is. Several of its main ornamentations have been busted off (but are easily reattached). Fortunately, the frame can be restored without extensive cost and will be 100% original when completed.

Carved frame was also badly damaged in shipping.

So, now that the horse has left the barn, the main question on the mind of the people reaching out to us for help is, “Can the artwork be restored? How much will the restoration of the oil painting cost? How much will the painting be worth after its restored?” There is no insurance company involved in this dilemma.

Let’s start with the last question, How much will the painting be worth after its restored?… the answer to which may over-ride the other two questions.

The painting in original undamaged condition is worth, retail-gallery-value, about $75,000.00… give or take. Obviously, condition is a factor, however. So, with the extensive damage which impacts most of the painting, is the value impacted 75% even if its restored perfectly? A knowledgeable art collector wouldn’t buy it. Perhaps a designer who could place it in a unknowledgeable person’t house or office could turn it around… but that designer is a hard person to find. The restored damaged painting would probably be offered at a low grade auction house that does not provide condition reports and “buyer beware” is the motto. Restored perfectly, it might even bring less than a 1/10th the undamaged good condition value.

So, if it costs $7,500 to do a good job on the restoration, would you save the painting? Leave a comment below about your opinion! I’ll respond.

On-topic with this cognitive dissidence, the following articles will interest you:

Can Botched, Over-Restored Art (repainted) Be Saved?

Rip in Painting Results in $350K loss in Value A Painful and Expensive Collector Care Lesson


Thrown in the trash… pulled out by dumpster-diver and sold for $500… perfectly restored for $5,000. What is it worth?


Call to discuss your restoration issue: Scott M. Haskins, Virginia Panizzon, Oriana Montemurro Art Conservators 805 564 3438

About Scott M. Haskins

Scott Haskins has been in professional art conservation since 1975, specializing in the conservation/restoration of easel paintings, murals and art on paper. FACL, Inc. is known nationally for doing A+ work no matter the size or difficulty of the project. We are happy to do a quick cleaning on a family heirloom. Our client list and resume is also full of very satisfied clients of large, difficult/complicated projects at remote locations. Excellent services are also available as an Expert Witness/Legal Testimony in art related matters. Consultation on art related projects occur regularly including extensive insurance evaluations for insured or insurer. Services are offered worldwide. Scott M. Haskins is also author of the "Save Your Stuff" series, educational information, materials and supplies to help people protect and save their treasured family heirlooms and collectibles at home and office. He can be reached at 805 564 3438. Video and written testimonials at
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23 Responses to Valuable Exquisite 150 Year Old Painting Destroyed by Careless Handling and Shipping

  1. Newton Smith says:

    Hmm. I don’t know. I mean, I love artwork but this looks like a goner already. There may still be hope for preserving it but it would seem the value is seriously compromised. A quality restoration process will give it back its life and a whole new look but it doesn’t restore the entire value.

  2. Rebecca Sharks says:

    Of course, I would save the painting. Who wouldn’t? The painting is really old and I love old paintings because it gives me a connection with our past which just makes the whole thing interesting. I would definitely save the painting cause it’s worth it.

  3. provenza victoria says:

    I like the ideas of trade mentioned. This painting is not my style (for my office or home) although it is very nice… its worth saving.

  4. Jane Cotta says:

    I think I’d pay to have the painting preserving and stabilized immediately. Then I’d wait till an opportunity arises for a good deal to turn it over.

  5. mary mansfield says:

    What about trading it once it was restored? You could possibly more than double your money if you had a network or opportunity to exchange it for something else great and you will have saved a gorgeous work of art.

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Mary, brilliant idea… and fun too!! Its interesting to think of the possibilities.


    I’ll bet an auction house would just treat the painting like any commercial item, for the sake of a $. You’d not get any special considerations to “save the art” for art’s sake by an auction.

  7. angela roby says:

    The auction house option is a crap shoot. Hoping for a return on investment isn’t my strategy for investing. So, if the artwork is really good quality, I’d restore it to save and keep it.

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Angela, you seem to have a good grasp of the auction process. I agree with you to save this quality, delightful, work of art and frame.

      • Scott M. Haskins says:

        Well, yes, you are right. But in their defense, they handle A LOT of art and can’t spend $ on saving everything that’s tattered that gets dumped on them.

  8. Cripe Laverty says:

    If you send it back to the owner via shipping, won’t you loose more original paint?!?! Jeez, what a situation.

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Cripe, Thanks for your comments and logical question. The answer is yes! There would have been more catastrophic (for the painting) loss of paint if we had put it back in the mail. We absorbed conservation grade adhesives into the losses and set the lifting paint with heat before returning it to the owner’s agent. Though our emergency work was thorough, I urges extreme caution but who knows if they even care.

  9. MARTHA DRAW says:

    I think I’d get it restored for the art’s sake, then I’d donate it if I didn’t want to keep it. You can recoup your investment and probably much more in the form of a tax right off.

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Martha, I have a well-to-do client who has not paid taxes in many years as a result of his donations of art. Put you need to follow a process or protocol. Thanks for leaving your insightful comment.

  10. angie golden says:

    Its so sad to see that much damage to such a wonderful painting. It looks museum quality.

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Its a very high quality painting and is fun to look at the details under the stereo binocular microscope. I love getting “up close and personal” with paintings!

  11. kurtis sides says:

    Such a beautiful painting and frame. It almost looks like a print.

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      In fact, Kurtis, the artwork was brought to us to be examined under our microscope to see whether or not it is an art print, a print that’s been painted over or an original! It is, in fact, an original painting with no print or photo underneath.

  12. Bonita Brown says:

    Oh wow… so, if the client doesn’t want to conserve it, then, as an art conservator, what did you do?!

    • Scott M. Haskins says:

      Hi Bonita. Yes, that’s a logical question! We stabilized the very active and fragile flaking by absorbing into the paint losses an archival grade consolidation resin so that no further losses would take place with reasonable handling. Then we handed it back to the owner’s representative. But neither the owner nor the owner’s rep is into the love of art and history (you can tell by the way they’ve cared for it!). We did this for the sake of the artwork, gratis, because the owner isn’t going to spend any $ on it. Its like putting a bank-aid on a slit artery… so even though it didn’t stop the problem completely, it made us feel a little better.

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