Value Propositions

Throughout her career, Verderame has seen a treasure trove of fascinating and sometimes priceless objects. During one event, a woman brought a $100,000 Edgar Degas pastel drawing that she'd found hidden in an upholstered chair she’d nabbed at a garage sale. She’s also seen an authentic Picasso rummaged from an estate sale for a mere $2.


French artist Edgar Degas produced nearly 1,500 works involving ballet dancers. This one, one of the most notable finds Verderame has seen as an appraiser, was discovered inside a chair purchased at a garage sale. 
Image courtesy of Lori Verderame,

As an appraiser for the television show Auction Kings, Verderame shines in her role identifying items, describing their history, and helping to determine their value. On season four of the show, she even had the chance to scope out Thomas Jefferson’s writing desk.

Verderame has appraised objects that have spanned the globe—and the ages. She’s valued a NASA moon boot from the Apollo 13 mission and assessed George Washington’s wallet. She’s seen an ancient Egyptian mascara jar from the year 80 B.C. and a gemstone-encrusted good luck charm that belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte.

Of course, there are also things that wind up relegated to the junk pile, and Verderame has seen those, too. (Beanie Babies, anyone?)

“Sometimes buyers get a bargain," she says with a laugh. "Sometimes they pay way too much!”

One rule of thumb for not getting taken as a sucker? Avoid things specifically marketed as “collectibles,” says Verderame. “They usually aren’t as valuable as you might think. If someone has to tell you it’s collectible, it probably isn’t.”

In recent years, Verderame has seen a spike in the public’s interest in antiques and valuables, which means her career will keep booming. She’s even got a new television gig in the works. But most importantly, it means more people want to share her love and appreciation for the objects history has left behind. And that’s why she got into the business in the first place.