During tours, visitors often ask what Gari Melchers’ paintings sold for, or how much he earned for a portrait.
We know some of these numbers from our archives and research, but they are described in prices from the early 20th century, which seem paltry compared to today’s figures.
So to answer the questions, here are some of the numbers we know, and their comparative value today, adjusted for inflation (and deflation) using the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
1908: Gari charged Charles Freer $2,500 for his portrait of Theodore Roosevelt = $64,000 today.
1916: Gari and Corinne purchased Belmont for $12,000 = $259,000 today
1929: Gari listed an income of $42,000 on his federal income tax return = $546,000 today
1955: Corinne left an endowment of $100,000 for the support of Belmont = $857,000 today
These comparisons only allow for inflation and deflation of the dollar and do not take into consideration all of the other factors that affect estimated values, such as demand, availability, average wages, world events, etc. But at least this gives us a general idea of the adjustments that must be recognized in talking about the past.