A BARGAIN BECAUSE I WAS PRESENT AT THE AUCTION!!

ATTEND AUCTIONS AND BE READY TO POUNCE ON THE BARGAINS!!

AUCTIONS ARE VERY WEIRD EVENTS. SOME TIMES THEY ARE VERY LIVELY AND PRICES ARE VERY STRONG AND ON OTHER OCCASIONS THEY ARE VERY WEAK AND BARGAINS ARE EVERYWHERE.

 

Ivan Choultse

(Russian, [1874-1939] Painted snowy winter landscapes and forest views; a very collectable artist whose work has jumped in value due to Russian interest. Auction price range  £5,000 – 80,000)

March 1986, Sotheby’s London

I entered the Kuhnert for sale in the Important 19th Century European Paintings Sale at Sotheby’s, London for March 1986, with a reserve of £3,000.  I was confident it would sell and when the catalogue arrived I felt sure it would. I had no plans to attend the auction, but studying the catalogue, a painting by Ivan Choultse looked to be a bargain when compared with auction prices in New York.

I researched the painting and I concluded that it was a great investment at the estimate. I phoned a friend who refused to listen to me. As a matter of fact I felt he was angry I had told him about the painting and its potential. I hung up and then scolded myself saying, “Perhaps I should go to the auction, and if luck is on my side I will buy the Choultse for myself.  Keep your mouth shut and mind your business.” 

Mum is the word in this business and indeed in any other business! 

Auctions can be very entertaining but also extremely boring and frustrating. Costly when items remain unsold, but hugely profitable when events favour your corner in bad sales. The 19th Century Paintings Sale of March 1986 at Sotheby’s was in two parts, morning and afternoon. Following whole auctions and registering the pulse and strength of the market was important to my investments. Seeing bidders and how many people were bidding on a particular painting and artist helped me to determine the strength of the artist’s worth and popularity. How many bidders and at what level?

Wednesday! The sale started at 10.30am.  There were about ten people in the saleroom and by 12.30, the end of the morning session, there were six people left. The auction was an absolute disaster with nearly every other lot left unsold. Of the one hundred and thirty odd paintings in the morning more than 40% were unsold and whatever sold was close to the estimate.  Constantine Parthenis, a Greek artist, was an exception selling at £12,000 with an estimate of £4,000-6,000.  I registered that fact in bold letters. At the same time it became clear that the Kuhnert would struggle and perhaps the Choultse too. 

 The afternoon sale continued in the same manner; deserted saleroom, depressing atmosphere and nothing but unsold and unsold art.  It was disastrous, as lower value paintings, as a rule, struggle more than higher priced ones during bad sales and bad economic conditions.

The Choultse painting was to be auctioned before the Kuhnert, but by then I was pretty sure of its fate. It was a diabolically bad sale but I was there and more importantly also prepared to take advantage of that rare situation.

A downcast auctioneer called out, “ Choultse, a snowy hill.”

The estimate of £800-1200 was rather conservative, in spite of the painting’s fine frame and solid provenance.  That was a painting worth £2-3000 in New York, sales figures of similar paintings pointed out clearly.  Eight hundred pounds was well within my compass of buying. That was a straightforward business trade. Buy and sell quickly and hopefully double your money.

I was not anxious for once because the room was nearly empty bar half a dozen onlookers. Surely, the Choultse was destined to be mine.

“Six hundred pounds,” the auctioneer called out looking everywhere in the room.  The announcement fell on deaf ears and walls.  Nobody moved a finger. “Six hundred and twenty pounds,” he continued, bidding against the wall frustrated and flushed.

My hand went up and I added another thirty pounds to £650. 

“I have a bid of £650.   I have six-fifty. I am selling at six hundred and fifty pounds,” and down came his gavel like manna from heaven.  The Choultse was mine at £720 inclusive of all commissions and taxes. It was an easy below estimate sale for Max the auctioneer and a good purchase for myself.  I was the lucky buyer and I knew I had made a good month’s salary from it or perhaps more. How did I know?  My significant investment in catalogues of 19th century paintings in New York pointed clearly to double or treble my investment. No doubt. Having every result of those sales written down was work that paid me back. Investing in the first Art Sales Index that year was money well invested too.

Was I right in my assessments?  More importantly, what happened to the Kuhnert in that same sale? As I predicted, it remained unsold at £2,000 with an estimate of £3,000-4,000.  Not a single bid was offered. That was perhaps one of the worst auctions I had ever attended at Sotheby’s. I walked out of the auction with three lessons taken on board:

·          Attend auctions and you never know what bargains there might be!

·         Watch the Greek market because the Parthenis sale was exceptionally strong in such a subdued sale.

·         If you do not sell because a sale is bad, then buy!

Choultse is one of the most sought after Russian artists today and that picture I bought at Sotheby’s in 1986 is worth about £50,000 today.  I sold the painting in New York six months later for $4500 dollars, (£3,000) or 400% more, thus making that sale one of the best ones at the time. Could I complain with a 300% net profit achieved within eight months?  Most importantly, I had proved that I could trade between the major auctions and across the Atlantic rather successfully.

 

AUCTIONS ARE OPEN TO EVERYBODY AND THERE IS NO RESTRICTION TO ATTEND AND IF YOU WISH TO REGISTER AND BUY!! THERE ARE PLENTY OF REQUIREMENTS BUT LEGALLY YOU ARE ENTITLED TO BID, IF YOU HAVE THE FUNDS!!

 

 

WAS THAT A GREAT INVESTMENT OR NOT?

INVESTING IN ART MAKES SENSE TO ME BUT....

 

 

20 MILLION BECAME 130 MILLION!!!

 

DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO YOU, THE EVERYDAY PERSON?

DOES IT ATTRACT YOU AS THE SHARES OF A BLUE CHIP COMPANY?

DO YOU FEEL CONFIDENT THAT ANY INVESTMENT IN ART WILL DELIVER GOOD RESULTS AS THE ABOVE?

 

THE FUNDAMENTALS ARE ALWAYS IN ACTION AND ALWAYS APPLY. BUY QUALITY, BUY AT RELATIVELY REASONABLE PRICE AND WAIT FOR AT LEAST TEN TO TWENTY YEARS TO CASH IN YOU INVESTMENT

 

HERE ARE TWO EXAMPLES TO MAKE IT CLEARER OR PERHAPS THREE EXAMPLES

 

THE HIGHEST SALE OF MODERN ART PAINTING AT AUCTION WAS THE MODIGLIANI NUDE THAT SOLD AT SOTHEBYS NEW YORK FOR 157 MILLION DOLLARS THIS MAY, IE 140 MILLION NET AND BEFORE COMMISSIONS. TAKE INTO ACCOUNT ABOUT A 6% SALES COMMISSIONS FOR SUCH A VALUABLE PAINTING AND THE OWNER COLLECTED SOME 130 MILLION DOLLARS. THEN COMPARE THIS WITH 20 MILLION HE PAID SOME TEN YEARS AGO AND THE CONCLUSION IS:

GREAT RESULT, GREAT INVESTMENT!!

 

THEN CONSIDER THIS AND THE QUICK RETURN OF A VERY GOOD PAINTING TO THE MARKET. THE PAUL EMILE JACOBS OF GREEK INTEREST SOLD AT SOTHEYBYS LONDON THIS MAY FOR 112500 POUNDS, WHICH MEANS IT SOLD FOR 100,000 POUNDS MINUS ABOUT 10% COMMISSIONS. THE SELLER COLLECTED ABOUT 90,000 POUNDS. ALL WELL AND GOOD UP TO THIS POINT BUT....

 

THIS PAINTING WAS PURCHASED IN MUNICH ABOUT THREE MONTHS EARLIER FOR 120,000 EUROS. MY MATHS SAY THAT THE INVESTOR LOST SOME 15-20,000 POUNDS EVEN THOUGH HE MADE A VERY GOOD INVESTMENT. THE REASON FOR THE LOSS? TOO EARLY TO SELL HIS INVESTMENT AND I ASSUME THE REASON WAS CASH FLOW.

THUS MY ADVICE TO ALL ART LOVERS IS SIMPLE. INVEST FOR LOVE OF ART, INVEST FOR THE LONG TERM AND BE PATIENT TO CASH IN YOUR INVESTMENT UNTIL THE MARKET IS RIGHT AND UNTIL A GOOD FEW YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE THE INVESTMENT WAS MADE.

FINALLY LET ME ASSURE YOU THAT CONTEMPORARY ART HAS MUCH VALUE IN IT WHEN ONE KNOWS WHEN TO INVEST AND INTO WHAT ARTIST. OUR INVESTMENTS IN CONTEMPORARY ART PROVED GOOD AND WE EXPECT A LOT BETTER ONCE THE GREEK MARKET RECOVERS. IT MIGHT TAKE ANOTHER FIVE TO TEN YEARS BUT.. 

PATIENCE IS REQUIRED IN ANY INVESTMENT!!

 

LEON KALOGEROPOULOS WAS A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST WHEN I INVESTED IN HIM BACK IN 2000. HE WAS NOT KNOWN AT AUCTION BUT HE HAS A RECORD SALE NOW OF OVER 8000 POUNDS. 

 

VASILIS ZENETZIS WAS NOT KNOWN TO AUCTIONS BUT HE HAS AN AUCTION

RECORD OF 4200 NOW. WE STARTED INVESTING IN HIM FIRST TIME IN 1988!

 

 

IF YOU CANNOT DECIDE WHO TO INVEST IN, THEN ASK FOR ADVICE!! IT

WORKS AND IT COSTS VERY LITTLE, IF NOTHING!!

PETER CONSTANT

 

 

 

 

 

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