ValueMyStuff: Helping You Uncover That Monet In Your Attic

Story by Benjamin F. Kuo


How much, really, is that painting stashed in your attic, which your grandfather left to you? And, how much is that ceramic vase you found in your aunt's garage? ValueMyStuff ( recently opened up its U.S. offices in Los Angeles--wants to help anyone figure out exactly what those items are worth, tapping into expertise from its staff, who have been at big international auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's. We spoke with Megan Mulrooney, who is a Vice President at ValueMyStuff and head of the company's U.S. expansion efforts, to learn more.

What is ValueMyStuff all about?

Megan Mulrooney: ValueMyStuff is an easy way to find out what your stuf fis worth. Our clients upload images onto our website, and within 48 hours they get an appraisal back. Whether you have a painting, a print, a ceramic, an item of sports memorabilia, or an item of rock memorabilia, you can get an appraisal or report in 48 hours from experts from international auction houses like Sotheby's, Christie's, Philip's, and Bonhams.

Where did the founders come from?

Megan Mulrooney: The founder, Patrick van der Vorst , went on a program like Shark Tank here in the U.S., Dragon Den in the U.K., and one a hundred thousand pound investment. He then opened up the office in London and recruited people from Sotheby's. I came on from Sotheby's,. We the relaunched the company to make it very easy to use, accessible, and so that you can upload your items very quick and easy. After 2008, with the economic downturn, we also were able to recruited people from people like Sotheby's and Christie's, because they had let go of a lot of their expert staff. We picked up that expertise, and they became our experts. We have a global network now of people with ten and twenty years of experience, which you normally wouldn't have had access. You now have access to them for only $10, because each appraisal is only $10.00.

Why did you set up an office in Los Angeles?

Megan Mulrooney: I am originally from Los Angeles, and we kind of saw the Silicon Beach tech movement here in Southern California as really timely. It was great timing for us to move into the market, to capitalize on the expertise here, in terms of development, online marketing, Google, etc. and also tap into the venture capitalist here. We also looked at New York, but although we're an art company, we're really a tech company, and if your tech doesn't work, you're not going to make things work. So, we moved here, because it was a great way to enter into Los Angeles and the West Coast.

The art market is very old and traditional, how has the reception been to making something like this available online?

Megan Mulrooney: We've been seen a little bit as the Robin Hood of the art market, because we've been bringing our expertise to everyone at a low cost on this white horse. It's cheap, it's affordable, and we're breaking down the barriers, because it doesn't matter who you are, what you look like, what you have. You don't have to be embarrassed when you come to us, because we're just here to help you figure out what things are worth. We are just lovers of art and history, and want to help people who haven't been able to find out--and can't find out through things like the Internet--what their stuff is worth. It's an ideal opportunity.

Who is the ideal customer for your service?

Megan Mulrooney: It would be someone at home in the Midwest, might be in a little town with only a small antique shop in town, but has some amazing paintings left to them by their parents, but they have no idea what they are worth. Or maybe they have a chair or highboy their grandmother told them was amazing--but they have no way to figure out if it's Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts Style. What we allow them to do is to simply submit photographs of their item online, and get things like provenance, history, details, and a whole lesson on what their heritage is and how much the object is worth. It's really ideal for someone who has no idea what they have, and wants to find out.

What's the most interesting item you have run across so far on your service?

Megan Mulrooney: There are two things that come to mind. One is we actually found a Monet, which was propped up against a fish tank. We had to tell them--please don't touch it, don't move it, we're coming! The other thing that was quite nice, was an Amish sleigh, which had been handcrafted, and was a great Christmas item. Every day, we see the wacky, wierd, and wonderful. It's a joy to see what coming to the site, because you never know.