NEVER LATE TO START!!

IN THE MIDDLE OF SOMETHING NEW, A NEW ADVENTURE?

THAT IS HOW IT STARTED FOR ME. I MOVED FROM ONE COUNTRY TO ANOTHER, I STARTED WORK TEMPORARILY IN MY OLD PROFESSION BUT I LOOKED FOR SOMETHING NEW TOO!!

THE REST IS HISTORY AS DESCRIBED IN RAGS OR RICHES!!

 

FROM 19TH CENTURY ART TO 20TH-21ST CENTURY ART

 

ELIAS ATZITIRIS, RARE OIL PAINTING OF 1870S

 

VASILIS ZENETZIS

Everything became possible with luck and hard work, without which it would have been impossible to break into the serious art market the way I did. Luck, hard work and accumulated knowledge enabled me to make investments which returned significant sums regardless of whether I invested from home or in the auction room in countries as far apart as the UK, the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Australia and the Far East.

Art has never stopped evolving from time immemorial, never stopped impressing itself upon the human race in a very deep, subsconscious way. Art has always attracted us like a magnet and has represented Man through the ages to today. How could I escape such a pull? I visited art exhibitions as a young student, I admired paintings in major museums and I loved the whole ambiance of art. In all those early, formative years of my life and until I got married, I never managed to buy a single work of art. It was a struggle to survive, a constant battle to lay the basic foundations for the future, let alone spend money on a painting.

Something inside me clicked as early as 1967 when in the company of an artist friend. He kindly painted for me two small ceramic paintings, the first I ever owned, and I regret I no longer have them. It was years later that I invested in my first painting together with my wife in 1979.  It was auspicious, but there was no way to even suspect that, a few years later, I would be involved in art in such a professional manner and with so much at stake.

Calling myself a collector and investor of art today, from an absolute novice in 1983, took many twists and turns that I was never prepared for nor anticipated. Nevertheless, I always faced strokes of luck and unlucky turns stoically and decidedly. I took successes with great satisfaction and failures as part and parcel of the process of becoming a better investor. I made do with no money in the beginning and persevered in adversity and hard times. Even when the worst financial situations affected the business and the world, I carried on, changed tactics and direction and survived.

Starting with 19th century fine art in 1984-85 and trading at auctions all over England and the United States, I learned the basics of buying and selling art at auctions and acquired invaluable knowledge of how they operate.  I became qualified enough to face the auction experts, with their individual agendas and their strengths and weaknesses, on a level footing. Soon enough I moved on to contemporary and impressionist art, which rewarded me handsomely. Being well informed enabled me to invest in top names before others scented the prey. Observing very closely how the markets performed eventually led me to Russian and Greek art, when many others were oblivious of the possibilities and rewards in those two emerging markets.

Being highly motivated and determined to learn a new trade I devoted myself to the art world and unconsciously fell in love with it. I learned the business of trading and collecting art the hard way and the expensive way. There was nobody to give me a piece of advice, nobody to warn me of the traps of the trade, the dangers of the trade. I gradually became a competent trader/investor, via this unorthodox, expensive route. With a hard-working ethos on my part and the essential investments I made in myself, in catalogues, magazines, indexes, art literature, computers and finally the Internet, I gradually completed the journey from a complete beginner and amateur to a skilled art investor. I utilized successfully all the experience acquired over time, and in spite of the upheavals of the last thirty years, I am still standing and trading successfully. To add spice to my trading activities, I also managed to earn introductory commissions from the two major auction houses of London, Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

I had my first lucky break at the top auction house in the world, Sotheby’s, in 1984, where experts and seasoned dealers failed to identify the bargain that enabled me to step onto the ladder of high priced investments. It was possible to buy bargains repeatedly at major and minor auctions over the years and expand the business from a ten-pound note in October 1983 to hundreds of thousands of pounds today.

In spite of the many successes, I also faced serious financial problems, which I had brought upon myself in the process of trading. I made serious mistakes with some bad investments and simply lost my way at times, although never direction and ultimate target! I became an addicted art collector.  I consider art to be a great vehicle for accumulating wealth and a lot more fulfilling than stocks, shares, gold or property.  Throughout the thirty years of this art venture I was still employed as a teacher and the two jobs co-existed with no issues. Teaching supported art and art supported an art lover to fulfil his dreams and passion.

Some exceptionally high rewards over the years took place and returns of 500% and 1000% occurred on many investments. Some gambles were taken, but it was mostly knowledge and experience that tipped the balance to tremendous successes.  Luck, as I have already affirmed, also proved pivotal in everything I traded.  I attribute to Lady Luck the biggest successes I ever had, but I moved my little finger too.

The economic conditions in the world have always been uncertain and constantly changing for all of us. Being involved in art, knowing in depth another trade while working as a teacher and making money from home was satisfying and lucrative for me.  I would imagine many people would love to imitate that. Through the stories of this book I provide the knowledge, the tools, the Alpha to Omega of trading in art to enable them to do so.  Make a note of these tools and advice, and perhaps this is the story you have been waiting for to spur you on and get you started in fine art trading as a challenging profession or recreation. I started at point zero. I did it with no knowledge and little money. I did it with hard work, luck and love for art.  It is possible for you to do the same and much more easily today in the comfort of your office or home with the Internet and all the other aids I refer to.  This book will hopefully be your ultimate tool and companion.

Art is a multi-billion dollar business ever expanding and ever attracting new investors and collectors worldwide. You might think it is impossible to break into this world, as I thought in the early eighties. Yet, the impossible happened, the unimaginable took place, and a penniless ignoramus in 1983 achieved a dream of dreams.

 

 

Peter Constant     

VIEWING A SHOW, DISAPPOINTED WITH QUALITY!!

 

IT HAPPENS AT TIMES!!

I DECIDED I NEEDED TO SHOW SUPPORT TO THIS ARTIST AND VISITED HER SHOW OF SOME THIRTY PAINTINGS. IT IS ALWAYS GOOD TO SUPPORT NEW ARTISTS AND SEE  WHAT THEIR WORK IS LIKE AND SPEAK TO THEM TOO.

I WASTED MY TIME .

THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME NOR WILL BE THE LAST TIME BUT... SOME ARTISTS HAVE NO IDEA HOW BAD THEY ARE AND HOW TERRIBLE THEIR ART MIGHT BE. I AM NOT IN LOVE WITH ABSTRACT ART BUT I SEE ITS MERITS AND I RECOGNISE ART WHEN THERE IS ART TO SEE AND COMPREHEND IT. THIS WAS NOT ABSTRACT IT WAS FIGURATIVE OF THE WORST KIND, IT WAS LANDSCAPE OF THE WORST KIND AND IT WAS ALL BY A WELL MEANING ARTIST WHO UNFORTUNATELY CANNOT PAINT FOR HER LIFE.

I AM NOT AN CRITIC BUT I KNOW WHAT GOOD ART SHOULD BE AND WHAT GOOD ART MUST HAVE IN ORDER TO BE CATEGORISED AS GOOD ART.

NEVER MIND THE TIME I WASTED, NEVER MIND WHAT I SAW, NEVER MIND THE COMPLAINTS OF THE ARTIST BECAUSE SHE DID NOT SELL ANYTHING. I COULD SPARE A COUPLE OF HUNDRED POUNDS TO BUY SOMETHING BUT THERE WAS INDEED NOTHING TO BUY.

I JUST HAD A SHOW MYSELF WHERE I HAD NO INTENTION OF SELLING ANYTHING ON THE SHOW. IT WAS AN EXHIBITION FOR A PURPOSE AND FOR THIS SITES STRUGGLES AND BELIEFS:

CYPRUS - FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY FOR ALL!!

 

 

I AM NOT BOASTING ABOUT MY OWN COLLECTION AND WHAT IS IN IT. SOME ART CAN BE POOR FOR MANY REASONS BUT I REFUSE TO SHOW IT, IF IT IS BAD AND REALLY WELL BELOW PAR!!

TAKE ADVICE IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO BUY!!

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING ADVISED WHAT TO INVEST IN OR WHAT TO BUY FOR YOUR OWN ENJOYMENT!! PLEASE ASK AND YOU WILL NEVER REGRET IT!!

 

PETER CONSTANT

ART REVEALS OUR REAL WORLD!!!

CIVILISATION IS READ THROUGH ART AND LETTERS

 

I HAVE NO PROBLEM IN ADMITTING THAT ART IS A MICROSCOPE OF OUR WORLD, A TEMPORARY IMAGE OR ICON OF OUR PRESENT WORLD. THE TEMPORARY THAT MIGHT BE 100 YEARS OR TWO, THAT MIGHT BE 500 YEARS OR A THOUSAND OR EVEN OLDER IN YEARS.

THE KNOWN CIVILISATION, OUR KNOWN FOR SURE ONE STRETCHES BACK TO ABOUT 1000 BC. WE KNOW VERY WELL ABOUT THE TROJAN WAR, THE PERSIAN EMPIRE, THE PERSIAN WARS, THE GREEK CLASSICAL PERIOD, THE ROMAN CLASSISISM AND THEREAFTER. DURING ALL THAT PERIOD WE HAD TREMENDOUS ACHIEVEMENTS THAT INSPIRE US UNTIL TODAY, SHINE BRIGHTLY AND GUIDE THE WORLD UNTIL TODAY, AT LEAST IN THE WESTERN WORLD. HAVING SAID THAT, THE EAST WITH CHINA , JAPAN AND INDIA HAVING THEIR OWN ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENTS WHICH I AM SURE ARE AS IMPORTANT AND AS INFLUENTIAL AS THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE EGYPTIANS, THE GREEKS, THE ROMANS AND THEN OTHER EUROPEAN NATIONS TO A LESSER DEGREE.

THE ISSUE I AM TOUCHING HERE IS BETTER EXPRESSED IN IMAGES THAT IN WORDS AND ESPECIALLY WHEN THE WRITER IS SO POOR A WRITER AS MYSELF. THIS IS THE BEAUTY OF CLASSICAL GREECE AND THIS IS THE BEAUTY OF THAT PERIOD AND THAT WORLD.

 

 

THIS IS THE BEAUTY OF THE ANCIENT WORLD EXPRESSED IN A STATUE DEVOTED TO ABSOLUTE BEAUTY OF THAT WORLD. ORDERLY, SYMMETRICAL, BEAUTIFUL AND MEANINGFUL TO THEM AND THEIR SOCIETIES OF THEN.

THE WORLD SINCE THEN AND IN VARIOUS STAGES DISMEMBERED SUCH BEAUTY EITHER MALICIOUSLY OR NATURALLY. TIME HAS DONE THAT BUT WE ARE LEFT WITH PLENTY TO ADMIRE, TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT WAS LIKE AND HOW IT WAS IN THOSE TIMES PASSED.

 

OUR MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART WORLD!!!

OF COURSE WE HAVE NO PARTHENONS IN OUR DAYS NOR PYRAMIDS OF THE STATURE OF THE REAL PYRAMIDS OF FOUR-FIVE THOUSAND YEARS AGO. WE HAVE OTHER STRUCTURES THAT INDICATE AND SHOW HOW TODAY'S SOCIETIES DEVELOP, CONSTRUCT AND MOVE FORWARD INTO THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

THAT IS FINE FOR ALL OF US AS WE LIVE IN IT AND HAVE BEEN CONDITIONED GRADUALLY TO ACCEPT IT. BUT, EXAMINING WHAT OUR MODERN ART AND CONTEMPORARY ART IS ALL ABOUT ONE HAS TO STOP AND WONDER; WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP OF ART TO THESE NEW STRUCTURES WE OBSERVE AND DO THEY DESCRIBE US ACCUARTELY AND INDEED TRULY?

WHERE IS OUR WORLD GOING AND INDEED WHAT THIS ART WILL SAY TO THE FUTURE GENERATIONS, IF INDEED THIS PRESENT WORLD SURVIVES A CATASTROPHE, WHICH ON THE BALANCE OF PROBABILITY IS CERTAIN TO OCCUR.

THIS IS CONTEMPORARY ART IN GENERAL:

 

 

 

 

 

THIS IS ONE SMALL SAMPLE OF WHAT OUR WORLD SPENDS MILLIONS TO BUY AND LIVE WITH. WHAT DOES IT TELL THE FUTURE VIEWER THAT WE ARE? WHERE IS THE BEAUTY IN IT? OF COURSE THERE IS BEAUTY IN EVERYTHING BUT THE NORM, THE ACCEPTED BEAUTY OF NOW IS SO INDIVIDUALISED AND SO DISTORTED THAT THE GENERAL, HUGE PUBLIC CANNOT SEE IT, AS IT CAN SEE THE BEAUTY IN ART CREATED SOME THREE THOUSAND AND TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO.

 

HERE IS THE QUESTION I LEAVE YOU ALL WITH;

IS OUR WORLD A CONFUSED WORLD OR A WORLD OF CLARITY AND VISION?? IS THAT VISION FOR THE FEW AND THE MASSES ARE LEFT WONDERING, WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?

 

PETER CONSTANT

 

BELIEVE IN ART; BELIEVE IN EXPERTS OPINION EVEN WHEN WRONG!

EXPERTS CAN BURY YOU OR MAKE YOU

For over thirty years I dealt with experts at auctions, with experts on artists and with artists themselves. Some are great, others are difficult and some are really stroppy and impossible to work with. Here is a case when I was a total amateur,  a total ignaramous but trusted and took the leaf of hope on the ocean of disaster.

  

 

The first heartbreak at Sotheby’s

July 1985, Sotheby’s London  

I deliberated, I procrastinated and agonised over whether to sell or keep the Jongkind - the first major painting I had invested in. Day after day, week after week, I questioned myself.  I asked other people’s opinion.  The only reason to sell was my burning desire to learn the business of trading art at the highest level, if it was possible. Keeping the painting would have meant an end to that dream.

Reality can be destroyed, hope can be buried but never allow a dream to die away.

Thus off to Sotheby’s I directed myself to consign the Jongkind and keep the dream alive. It was early July 1985 and the time to consign art for the autumn sales. Which sale and which department was the question, the impressionist or the 19th century department? There was no significant headache in making a decision.  Impressionist art was the most popular section of the art market, which also achieved the strongest sales.  Furthermore, Jongkind’s best prices were achieved in impressionist sales.

The timing of consignment was important.  I had already bought a pretty Henri Lebasque painting in San Francisco, also marked out for the same Sotheby’s sale.  I knew already that if I consigned two or three paintings at the same time and with the same auction and experts in charge, they would look upon my business more favourably.  More business offered through them, meant more money for them in commissions both from seller and buyer!  Such knowledge and policy I employed on many occasions and that won me the experts’ favour and respect! Experts do give favours, and these we all need at times! This fact will become more evident in the stories to follow, but it is not a rule, I might add!

To own a four thousand pounds painting in 1985 was a new and major experience for me. To be driving to Sotheby’s ready to consign it for sale was emotionally draining and scary. I was made of hard stuff, but this experience needed additional guts, nerve and belief in what I was doing. Did I have a master’s painting or did I believe I had what was never there? That was no time for doubts, but inexperience and the cost of the painting caused me ineffable insecurity and worry.

Anxious to hear the experts’ opinion and their valuation I arrived at Sotheby’s convinced that Jongkind would change the course of business and perhaps my life.  The omens were good - the weather was great, the city of London beaming in the summer sunshine.  Certain that the painting was by the artist, I dreamt of miracles and millions on my way to the centre of London.

Melanie Glore was a young expert in the Impressionist department of Sotheby’s.  I had seen her on a couple of occasions taking auctions and I was impressed by her cool manner and efficiency. The formalities of introduction over, she turned to the painting with immense interest.  She kept looking for a couple of minutes at the front, which seemed hours to me. She didn’t say anything.  She turned the painting expertly to the back. She looked at the support, the old canvas and condition.  Back to the front, she checked the signatures, once, twice, then again.  She touched and felt the paint. Two minutes were centuries for me let alone four and five! The apprentice was learning from the expert. It was invaluable teaching time and it was free.

What is she doing, I kept wondering?  What is the issue?  Everything was a novelty.  I kept looking, watching and noting. She was a specialist, an expert in the most important department of Sotheby’s.  Speak, please! Tell me something!

“This is a very interesting painting Mr Constant…”

 

 

 

 

WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES!!

TO ERR IS HUMAN

Buying at auction is very common these days. Auction houses, the important ones, make serious efforts to guarantee the authenticity of any work they sell and represent sellers and buyers in the best way. Unfortunately they make mistakes some times that are indeed hard to overcome in the first place.

This is a case of a work that was genuinely presented, signed properly and of the period, yet, the experts declared it not by the artist.

Was it or not?

 

Major auctions make cataloguing errors

The likelihood of buying a fake or wrongly ascribed painting privately is high. The chance of that happening at a major auction is limited but one cannot exclude it completely. Even though catalogued paintings are diligently checked and researched for accuracy of description by teams of experts, some escape rigorous authentication and are unfortunately sold erroneously as genuine and by the artist ascribed to them.

I had a couple of lucky escapes in 1985, which included the Jongkind. No fakes and no wrongly ascribed paintings of importance in 1986.  By 1987 I had enough money to make several investments, which I was trying to do as if it were an emergency! It is evident to me now, looking back critically that there were several problems in my investment strategy and many lessons had to be taken on board and learned well. In hindsight I was an immature investor because I did not not follow these core principles:

·         Wait and be patient in your investments.  That is the best policy as there are always new bargains appearing on the market and better opportunities to sell if the investment is given a breathing period of time.

·         It is not the number of investments that matter but the quality. I made twenty-five investments in 1987 most of which are not worth mentioning, except a few referred to here.

Christie’s, King Street, 19th Century Paintings sale of secondary paintings in February 1987 included a couple of interesting paintings for me. I was still attached to that kind of art rather than the more profitable modern and impressionist categories. I was thinking with my heart and emotions rather than pure maths and numbers. Should emotions of like or dislike enter the mind of a true entrepreneur?  Perhaps not, but art is a different sphere and a different world. Emotions have to play a role, like and dislike has to be part of the trade. Money comes later, or should it come first and before anything else?  I suppose it all depends on why you are investing in art - for business, for pleasure, or both?

I researched the Christie’s sale well looking into many possible investments but finally ended up with a Barbizon school painting by Henri Harpignies who was selling very well in New York, and an orientalist work by Eugene Alexis Girardet, a market also doing well across the Atlantic.  The idea was to send both paintings to New York immediately aiming to make at least a 50% return.

 

Asking for the opinion of an expert on an artist is no shame

Henri Harpignies

Another  genuine example

 

 

(French, [1819-1916], Successful landscape artist of the Barbizon school working in the second half of the 19th century alongside the Impressionists. Auction price range £2000- 30,000)

6th February 1987, Christie’s London

The Henri Harpignies painting was an attractive landscape composition of good size. I was not that familiar with the artist’s work but Christie’s knew better, and so I bought the painting on trust investing £2200 in it. The painting needed attention and framing, so I took it to the best restorer and framer in London at a cost of twelve hundred pounds, an enormous sum of money in those days.

That was a serious mistake. I should not have spent £1200 restoring and framing a painting, which at best was worth about £4000. That was trade suicide.  In general the rules are simple:

·         Frames should not cost more than 10% of the total selling price of a work of art.

·         Spend no more than 20% of the value of any work of art on restorations.

·         If you are reselling cheap art it might be better to leave things as they are.

It was ignorance and inexperience that I paid for, but fortunately and soon enough I learned to have paintings restored and frames made at a fraction of that amount.  I learned the hard way, the terribly expensive way. There was nobody to advise the amateur investor, no books to refer to and no experience to guide me.

Sotheby’s New York was the destination of both paintings and by May 1987 had been shipped there.  All the details of sale had been arranged prior to dispatch of the packet, but there are still a few details that vendors must be aware of when shipping paintings to auction houses:

·         There is a danger of damage and loss therefore insurance is a must.

·         The opinion expressed on the basis of photos is always with the proviso “upon inspection of the actual painting.”

·         The estimate might change once the item arrives at the auction house and the experts examine it closely.

The paintings reached Sotheby’s New York in one piece, but at the back of my mind was the worry of Sotheby’s final expertise. One never knows what they might decide or uncover in their efforts to be accurate and fair to both buyers and sellers. Time passed and I was expecting the good news from New York, the city that had assisted me to survive in the seventies as a young student and in 1986 as a fledgling investor with the Hofmann.

New York was to be the venue of my important sales that autumn with paintings such as the Montezin, Harpignies, Girardet and Choultse. The expectation was a return close to twenty thousand pounds in total. The wait was long and anxiety prolonged as summer was approaching. Sotheby’s have always been prompt in responding to consignment issues. Was there a problem?

The letter from the expert of Sotheby’s was short and to the point. The Girardet is fine and although heavily restored we are still happy with it. By the way that painting sold for £3,800 in November of that year, returning me just over 50% profit, thus verifying my view that New York was a better market than London.

However, “The Harpignies is not up to standard and we have asked the expert’s view on the piece. The advice is that it is not by the artist. We are sorry to give you such bad news.” 

Devastating news and the nemesis of a wrong investment visited unexpectedly. I had stepped on the banana skin I was so afraid of.  The Harpignies was a fake in spite of its purchase at Christie’s!  The news was a major blow and shook me to the core. I expected anything I bought at the most prestigious auction house in the world to be genuine, correct and as described.  I was at ease buying with Christie’s as their paintings pass an inspection of two or three experienced experts, but regrettably it was not so in this case, and I was seriously out of pocket.

So readers, caution! Even top auctions can sell wrong paintings!

However in spite of that major setback, I was determined, I was on a one path, one direction mission, and had to carry on.  I had made plenty of money in 1986 and I was able to take the knock from the Harpignies painting. Besides, I was hoping other investments would make up the losses incurred.

 

Guarantees of authenticity at auctions

Christie’s and Sotheby’s have earned the trust and confidence of their customers by offering guarantees of authenticity of five years on art they sell. Guarantees at other auctions can vary from two years at larger auctions, to months, weeks or no guarantees at all at smaller auctions.  It is therefore imperative to read the conditions of sale for every auction you intend to buy or sell at.

The five-year guarantee at the major auctions reads as follows:

“ If a purchase is proven not to be genuine and not by the artist stated, then, provided the painting is returned in the same condition as bought, we will refund the purchase sum but not any expenses incurred because of the painting.”

That I already knew well. The Harpignies had cost an additional £1500 in expenses to restore, frame and ship to New York and back to London. That was a hefty loss and a very serious lesson to learn. Knowledge and experience gained cost high sums of money, but unfortunately there was no other way to carry on trading.

The experience gained from the Harpignies trade was invaluable and well worth remembering:

·         The value of a painting dictates a proportionate restoration expense that should not exceed 20% of the final selling price.

·         Buy from auctions with guarantees of authenticity.

·         Major auctions as well as smaller ones make mistakes of attribution, thus great care should be taken when buying to ensure authenticity.

Auction houses honour their guarantees and legal responsibilities.  The Harpignies was returned to Christie’s. The verdict of the expert could not be questioned and the investment of £2200 was returned promptly.  The expert in charge, who was a good friend by then, apologized for the unfortunate event and promised to help financially with illustrations of paintings in future sales, so that I could recover some of the expenses incurred on the painting.  I appreciated this and time and again illustration charges were waived.  As a result of this good will and my friendship with the expert in charge, Christie’s were to make some serious money in the future from my business with them.

The expert was actually to help more than that later and when the difference between his opinion and that of others was in the tens of thousands of pounds. For that I am still eternally grateful to him.  He was indeed a good businessman, and in helping me he helped Christie’s business too. Well done to him! Major auctions are sympathetic and understanding to their clients’ needs and problems. They try to help as much as they can and within the interests of the business they work for. However exceptions also exist, which will become apparent in later entries.

The most important lesson with the Harpignies purchase was loud and clear and it needs to be repeated and expanded: 

·         Experts are human and thus can make mistakes. They have an opinion, which at times, even though rare, might be wrong.  Nobody is infallible.

It is also important to note that: 

·         There are experts on individual artists and they should be consulted before works of art are catalogued. Unprofessional cataloguing? No! Careless and quick cataloguing!

·        Dealers make mistakes too or at times they gamble on a painting as being authentic or by a certain artist. I did not gamble in the Harpignies case. I made an investment relying heavily on Christie’s attribution, which happened to be wrong.

I concluded that I had to make sure myself that what I invested in was well researched and checked many times before it was purchased.  If in doubt, I never paid my hard earned money. Even after I had bought something, I still carried on the checking to make sure everything was in order.  Fakes are mushrooming all over the art world and one has to be one million percent sure that what is purchased is the genuine article.  Keep your eyes open and tread cautiously as in rare cases such mistakes might be deliberate.  Fake is not just banana skins you skid and fall on. The Harpignies case was a small skid by the summer of 1987, but by 1990 things would become much more serious. The Knoedler Gallery case in New York in 2012-13 is a case of millions exchanging hands for possible fakes.

 

Have I always followed my own advice and learnt from my own mistakes? Are you joking! I am human, I am stubborn and most of all I repeat mistakes, which as the ancient Greeks used to say:

 

“ To commit the same mistake twice is not a sign of a wise man”