Zelda Fitzgerald Oil Painting, ca. 1935

Value (2011) | $10,000 Auction$20,000 Auction

I brought to you a painting by Zelda Fitzgerald. She painted this while she was a patient in Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1930s. And she painted this picture for a doctor who was the psychiatrist in charge of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. I inherited it from the doctor.

This is such an interesting item for us to see here. Everyone knows the story of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. They're kind of an iconic American couple of the 20th century. The story of Zelda, the beautiful young Southern belle who married F. Scott Fitzgerald, the rising artist in 1920, and they became the quintessential sort of golden couple of the jazz age of the '20s and had a storybook life, knew everyone who was everyone in Europe. Zelda obviously encountered many of the modernist painters and was influenced by them, and their life was almost idyllic for quite some time until it began to come to a rather bad end when Zelda eventually succumbed to mental illness. She was in various mental institutions during the course of the '30s and the '40s, first in Europe, and then in America. She died tragically in a fire in 1948, in a mental institution, and part of her therapy was painting. She became a very accomplished painter. And from what I see here, we're looking at oil on canvas in what is probably a frame from around that period, and it appears to be in reasonably good condition. And the paintings, as far as I understand it, were largely given away as gifts, and so today, we never see them on the open market. Now, the rarity of these pictures does raise the question of authenticity. I don't have an authenticity question about this picture because you brought us some very compelling documentary evidence supporting the provenance, and this rather wonderful painting of nasturtiums also is convincing in its own right as her work. But it would require consultation with some Fitzgerald scholars and experts in order to absolutely confirm the authenticity without any question. The one picture which I have tracked down, from 15 years ago, sold for $4,000 at an auction in New York City. That was a long time ago. Markets change, interest changes. In today's market, a conservative auction estimate on this painting would be between $10,000 and $15,000. And I think for you to insure it, you should be thinking about perhaps $20,000.

Well, that's very nice, thank you.

Well, thank you. I'm very excited. I got chills when you told me what you had in that box.

Appraisal Details

Harwood Fine Arts, Inc.
South Hadley, MA
Appraised value (2011)
$10,000 Auction$20,000 Auction
El Paso, TX (June 18, 2011)
20th Century

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.