La Verne Magazine
Summer 2004

Even the IRS Gives Top Dollar for a Maloof Masterpiece

by Rebecca Cote

A Sam Maloof masterpiece is definitely worth its weight in gold. In 2003, Maloof received a phone call from the IRS auditor who usually estimates the value of his work. The call concerned a woman who willed to charity a 1970s Maloof dining table and six dining chairs. As with all his clients, Maloof remained in contact with the set owner and knew the pieces were in great condition. The IRS auditor told Maloof that he had valued the set at $250,000, to which Maloof says he jokingly responded, “How about a half million?” From his auditor dealings in the past, Maloof knew that he always estimated the pieces at a lower value than sale price. A few days later, the auditor called back, saying his final evaluation was $450,000. “I never thought that he would go that high,” Maloof says. “Government auditors always make lower estimates than what the piece is worth. I was shocked.”

Maloof was also “shocked” last year at his annual workshop at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass Village, Colo. Anderson Ranch holds a charity art auction each year. Maloof donated a low back chair to the auction, and two groups bid a combined $125,000 for the chair. “We usually just do one chair for the auction each year, but I could tell that each group really wanted the chair,” Maloof smiles. “So, what I decided to do was build a second chair just like the first, so both could have the chair and Anderson Ranch could have the donations.”