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What’s It Worth? 

Written by Storyteller: Joyce Macias   Comments: 0

Integrity Launched a New Career for Dr. Lori


Dr. Lori Verderame didn’t plan to get into the business of appraising art and antiques. With a doctorate in art history from the prestigious Pennsylvania State University under her belt, it seemed more likely that she’d keep pursuing her interests in museum work and college-level teaching.


But her career plans took a dramatic turn in 1996 when she met a 75-year-old woman who had been swindled out of almost $50,000 by an unscrupulous appraiser.


“This woman had just sold a historic document to an appraiser for $50. But it was actually worth $50,000!” she said. “Other appraisers weren’t upset about it. They told me that kind of thing was just business, but to me it was illegal.”


With her blood boiling over the injustice of the transaction, she recognized that her training and background gave her the ability to do something about it.


“I realized that I could educate people about what their possessions are worth, and that is my mission,” she explained. “I saw a wrong, and what I’m doing now flowed out of that.”


And so began her new career as Dr. Lori, an art and antiques appraiser with a passion for helping people learn the value of their possessions. You may have read her nationally syndicated column, “Arts and Antiques” which appears in 85 publications reaching over 8 million readers a month. Or you may have seen her on the Fine Living Network or on the Comcast Tonight talk show that she hosts. She’s even been on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien and Comedy Central’s, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


Educating people is always her passion. She’s found that women 80 years and older seem to be especially vulnerable to shady appraisers. She told of an older woman in Pennsylvania who owned a $20,000 rug but was offered only $150 for it by an appraiser who had come to her home to see it. The woman was wise enough to turn down the offer. But the man frightened her by refusing to leave her home right away. In some cases, Dr. Lori said, older women have even been beaten up by people to who they opened their homes to appraise their possessions.


Dr. Lori tells of another incident where an insurance company sent an appraiser to set a value on a valuable antique silver tea service owned by a 92-year-old woman. During the visit, the woman happened to mention that she was going away that weekend to attend a wedding.


“While she was away, someone broke into her house and guess what was stolen?” Dr. Lori asked. The answer, of course, was the tea service.


Unlike most fine art and antique appraisers, Dr. Lori has no interest in purchasing anything she appraises. She believes it’s wrong for appraisers to buy from their clients, and she urges people to have their work valued by an unrelated third party before they sell.


Her straightforward approach and the information she gives has ticked off any number of other appraisers in the world of art and antiques. She said her office gets calls of complaint from antique dealer associations and appraisers’ clubs, even from representatives of the popular PBS Antiques Roadshow.


“[Dr. Lori’s] straightforward approach and the information she gives has ticked off any number of other appraisers in the world of art and antiques. She said her office gets calls of complaint from antique dealer associations and appraisers’ clubs, even from representatives of the popular PBS Antiques Roadshow.”



She also chides “supposedly well-educated appraisers” for touching or holding antique items without wearing gloves since the oil from human hands is easily transferrable to an art object. The oils attract dirt that will harm an antique.


“They ought to know that you wear gloves to protect objects,” she said vehemently.


A prolific writer with 30 books to her credit, her latest is the soon-to-be-released, “Don’t Host a Yard Sale.”  Her research for it included many visits to yard sales where she has been known to ask if the hosts knew they were giving away something really valuable for a quarter. One of them was a woman who was ready to sell a $5,000 platinum and diamond ring for $10! 


After spending her early years in Cheshire, Connecticut, Dr. Lori moved to Pennsylvania and now lives in Bucks County. Her earliest television shows were done in Philadelphia - a weekend show called “Trash or Treasures.” She finds TV shows a lot of fun to do and said she wasn’t really nervous about being on television, except for maybe a few at the beginning.


She explains that live television can be a little disconcerting if someone forgets the time schedule and winds up “throwing you in a chair and strapping a microphone on you” at the last minute. But she said her experience teaching in front of so many live audiences helped her and she’s not the least bit nervous. A good thing since she does more than 100 events and television appearances a year, including “Ask Dr. Lori” shows and “What’s It Worth?” clinics.


Despite her education and expertise, Dr, Lori’s audiences attest to her lectures being anything but boring. “You should be a stand-up comic,” a Fort Wayne woman commented. Her columns can be both funny and controversial even when she’s talking about contemporary toys like this year’s wildly popular Zhu Zhu pet hamster. In a recent column, she compared the furry, motorized hamster to an actual rat and wondered if parents would buy the Zhu Zhu if it had been marketed as a motorized rat. You could almost hear her chuckling as she wrapped up that part of the column by saying, “At least the idea of a hamster doesn’t have grandma running from Christmas dinner screaming.”


How does one woman manage to do so much? No problem, she answers.


“I’m unmarried. I don’t have kids. I don’t bake. This is what I do. You always find time for your passions,” says the art historian, museum curator and certified art and antiques appraiser.


Her impressive background includes teaching at Penn State, the State University of New York, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Yale University Art Gallery and holding museum positions at the Allentown Art Museum, Muhlenberg College and the Palmer Museum of Art, all in Pennsylvania. Travel is also a big part of her life, and she criss-crosses the globe doing lecture assignments aboard cruise lines where she points out little-known facts about topics as diverse as the architecture of St. Petersburg, Russia; Native American totem poles in Alaska and archaeological ruins in Pompeii and Ephesus.


“I’m lucky to get to do what I love,” she said. “I’m grateful and honored to be in such high demand.”


Information about her books, articles, shows and clinics can be found at www.DrLoriV.com or by calling 888-431-1010.



Thank you Dr. Lori, for sharing your Story with us.




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© 2010 by Joyce Starr Macias and Story of My Life®



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