THE BEGINNING OF ANY BUSINESS!!

NOT EASY BUT ALSO EXTREMELY REWARDING!!

 

IT was nearly forty years ago I started the art adventure that brought me great happiness and a life full of interesting adventures, encounters and an art collection of some merit. This is how it all began and developed in two pages! 

 

 

The story of the amateur investor began for real in London in October1983, but the seeds were sown years earlier in Athens, Greece. Narrating this incredibly amazing story of stories, I must declare my gratitude to Lady Luck from the very beginning! I am a lucky person to be alive having survived illness at an early age, airplane scares, emergency landings and the battlefield of war; a lucky person who entered the world of art a complete ignoramus, penniless and on a wing and a prayer. 

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.

 

PRPEARING EXHIBITIONS AND ATTENDING THEM!!

MARINE EXHIBITION READY TO VIEW AND ADMIRE!!

 

YIANNIS PAPANELOPOULOS  YACHT RACING ROUND 

WE HAVE A CLEAR VIEW OF WHAT ART SHOULD SERVE AND ATTEMPT TO DO ON THIS SITE.

PROMOTE FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY TO ALL THE PEOPLE ACROSS THE GLOBE!!

WE HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THE PREPARATIONS OF THE UPCOMING MARINE EXHIBITION OVER THE LAST SIX MONTHS ALONGSIDE SO MANY OTHER PROJECTS. AT THE HEART OF THIS OUTFIT IS TO SERVE ART AND THROUGH ART TO PROMOTE THE HIGHEST IDEALS OF HUMANITY WHICH WITH NO SHADOW OF A DOUBT ARE FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY WITH NO SHADES OF THEM AS THEY ARE UNFORTUNATELY PREVAILING ON THE PLANET TODAY.

THE MARINE EXHIBITION TOUCHES FREEDOM IN CYPRUS WHERE PART OF THE ISLAND IS OCCUPIED AND CONSTANTLY FURTHER COLONISED BY TURKEY WITH NEW ARRIVALS OF SETTLERS FROM TURKEY IN CYPRUS. KYRENIA HARBOUR AS IT WAS PRE-1974 IS NO MORE GREEK BUT TURKISH AND BY THAT I MEAN TURKISH, TURKISH.

I VISITED THE CITY RECENTLY AND I KNOW IT FIRST HAND. I WAS IN TURKEY FOR SURE, NOT IN CYPRUS. I KNOW WHO THE CYPRIOT IS GREEK OR TURK AND I KNOW WHO  ATURK FROM TURKEY IS AND ESPECIALLY THE ONES FROM ANATOLIA.

THE CATALOGUE OF THE EXHIBITION IS READY FOR ALL TO ENJOY NOW AND OF COURSE IT WOULD BE GREAT TO SEE AS MANY ART LOVERS AS POSSIBLE VISITING THE EXHIBITION IN LANDON AT THE GREEK BROTHERHOOD CENTRE IN NORTH LONDON.

PETER CONSTANT

ALL ON GREEK ART AND DANGER BELLS WERE RINGING LOUDLY!!

AN UNBALANCED PORTOFOLIO OF ANYTHING IS ALSO VERY

DANGEROUS!!

I WENT MAD WITH GREEK ART AND ALL OF A SUDDEN I WAS SO HEAVILY

INVESTED IN THIS SECTION OF THE MARKET THAT SCARED ME. YET, THE

MARKET WAS STRONG AND PROMISING MORE AND MORE!!

 

Apostolos Geralis

(Greek, [1886-1983], Very successful figurative painter of peasant Greek women and men in their domestic chores. Auction price range £1500- 25,000)

16th December 2003, IEGOR Quebec, Canada - 10th May 2004, Sotheby’s London

How did I miss that paintings auction? My, my! It was supposed to be Christmas in a few days’ time, but for myself that was the time to hunt for a bargain, if there was one in Canada. Most people were getting into a festive mood, but I was still at work and looking for investment opportunities all done from home and all enjoyable. No time to waste. The sale was in twenty-four hours and I had just a few hours that Saturday to arrange bidding, if anything was of interest. The time in Montreal was about four in the afternoon.

One after the other the paintings were not for me. I was not disappointed, but then there had to be a Greek painting and a bargain somewhere. I felt it. I expected it. How was that?  Instinct? Hope? Stupid expectation? Who knows what it was! 

There! Once again, there was Geralis, this time the better-valued younger brother of Lucas, Apostolos Geralis!  What a lovely painting of a peasant Greek woman at 3000 Canadian dollars, or about £1500.  I liked the painting and loved the price.  I estimated the painting to be worth well over £3000.   I had to buy. That was my chance to buy a beautiful Apostolos Geralis and I was not going to miss it. First time once again! Excitement, thrill, wild thoughts of profits and riches! Greedy guts!

The arrangement to bid on the phone was set in motion immediately. No need to waste time, no research needed, no prices to be checked. I had everything in the memory bank.

Great expectations just before Christmas!  Another bargain purchase, an unexpected Christmas present from Canada! Another bout of anxiety, worry and suspense!  Was that my first purchase? Rather my thousandth one, but it felt like the first. Could I purchase another good Greek painting in the next twenty-four hours? Was I the only investor in Greek art? It was unbelievable. Either the whole world was asleep or I was daydreaming.  Was I the only one digging for treasure or was I perhaps digging a financial grave by investing 80% of my money in Greek art?  Which one was it? I was pretty sure at the time that it was treasure. I was one hundred percent sure of the rewards of investing in Greek art, but was I too full of myself and bullish? 

Sunday night arrived so quickly that I had no time to worry or fret about bidding any more.  Having splashed £25,000 on other purchases in October and November there was very little left to bid on the Geralis.  Nevertheless, I hoped that not too many people had seen the painting and that the reserve would be the winning bid.  The call from IEGOR could not have come earlier.

“Mr Constant,” the voice over the Atlantic, as clear as a bell, “two lots to the Geralis.”

Immediately the bidding started, I knew I was the only bidder and that the Geralis was mine. At £1500 the beautiful Apostolos Geralis was indeed a Christmas present from Canada. By the end of December the painting was hanging up on the wall at home and I was enjoying the art of an artist I had dreamed of buying for years.  A peasant Greek lady busy with the chores of the house filled me with pride and joy.  I deliberately stared and stared at the painting in admiration. I knew I had to cash it in soon and therefore I had to make the most of it while I could.  It was a short-term investment, a moneymaking exercise, which hopefully would work in my favour and assist me in my plans for the Olympics. 

 

Never put all your eggs in one basket!  Too risky!

I was at that moment close to penniless because in addition to the Geralis investments I had also bought in Athens and Paris other Greek paintings by artists such as Xenos, Doukas, Kanas, Romanides, Sklavos and Prasinos totalling about £20,000.  This did not include the additional payments I had to make to contemporary artists!  I had gone mad!

Overnight and within 2003 the portfolio had become unbalanced and heavy on Greek art investments.  That was a significant move and investment in one direction.  I was at risk of ruining the work of the past twenty years by investing nearly 90% of my money on Greek art!  Very dangerous! I could hear the bells of danger ringing in the distance, but I was also sure that Greek art was heading towards much higher and better pastures. The fine edge between success and failure needed a good pilot and I was under the microscope.

My addiction was close to sickness; to me however it was joy and happiness translated into love for art and love for my country’s art.  But the flesh-biting question was always there.  Was it love for art or was it love for money?  I have always wondered and asked myself this one million-dollar question. Which came first?  Nevertheless, whenever I invested in something it was because I liked it first, and that was the reason I stretched my finances to breaking point all the time. 

I was rich in assets, but cash strapped! Isn’t that the case with all big business people, I kept wondering! Slow, dreamer!  Slow!

The sale of all recent acquisitions had already been planned for Sotheby’s Greek sale in London in May 2004, just three months before the Athens Olympics.  I felt it was the right time to sell, not only because I desperately needed the funds, but also because I believed the Greek art market would climb even higher that year because of the Olympics. That was the event I was banking on. 

The May sale was to be my biggest auction sale in numbers ever. I had made the investments, and in doing so I had put nearly all of my eggs in one basket.  If I read the market wrongly, I would have serious financial problems. I would be under a mountain of debt once again with a stock of several hundred paintings, mainly Greek, threatening everything I had built over the past twenty years.

I needed to sell, I had to cash in the investments in order to recover my money and hopefully make some profit.  There was no Exter to fall back on any more.  No other artist I owned could sell for sixty thousand pounds from the sale of just one painting, nobody, although I had collected hundreds of smaller value paintings, which I hoped would give me a breather whenever I needed a good sum of money.

 

Desperate to cash in some of my investments

The car was loaded with a dozen paintings plus the Sklavos sculpture. Even though there were no major pieces amongst them, quality art and artists were involved. I was not too concerned about estimates and the opinion of the experts.  I was certain that my consignment was what they were looking for and that they would accept my property with open arms.  All I needed were reasonable estimates and normal business terms.

The two experts of Sotheby’s were anxiously expecting my consignment.  It was a significant part of their May sale. They arrived together as soon as arrived at the reception on George Street.  Happy faces, happy remarks and down to business.  There was no hustle, no arguments and no aggravation – everything as smooth as silk.  I was an important seller with the goods to attract both major and casual buyers. They had to take into serious consideration my needs, as Sotheby’s wanted a second Greek annual sale.

I consigned thirteen items for the sale, which I listed clearly together with all my requirements.  By providing the experts with a list, I had made a statement of needs, forced the issue of reserves and gave them no chance to reject anything I planned for sale.  Consigning such a large number of paintings enabled me to demand the best terms and also enabled the experts to afford me the best terms as a trader.  In a sale of 172 lots, I owned thirteen lots, in other words, about 8% of the sale. 

The experts were impressed by nearly all the consignment, but they particularly liked the Xenos painting of Vouliagmeni, the large Zenetzis canvas of Monastiraki with Acropolis Beyond and the Sklavos sculpture.  Encouraging comments for most of the significant art, but how would my splash on Greek art fare in the test arena of auction on 10th May 2004?  Would I recover the total investment cost of £19,000 and make a 50% profit too? 

 

 

THE INTERNET BROUGHT GREAT CHANGES AND REWARDS TO ALL!

NEVER LETTING GO!!

IF YOU ARE IN BUSINESS AND YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT, IT IS A 24/7 JOB OR YOU ARE NOT A GOOD BUSINESS PERSON. THE FOLLOWING STORY TELLS US ALL EXACTLY THAT!!

 

THE GERALIS IN GREEKSINART COLLECTION RIGHT NOW!!

 

  

 

The Internet delivers first time out

Lucas Geralis

(Greek, [1875-1958] Painter of figurative, marine and still life paintings. Well regarded and collected. Auction sales range £1500- 8000)

15th April 2003, Bonhams, London      10th May 2004, Sotheby’s, London

The Lucas Geralis painting of flowers, estimated just a little more than I priced it, had been on the Internet since early 2002 and was begging to be bought.  Bonhams were trying hard, but it refused to happen. Once and twice I sat it out and refrained from bidding.  When it appeared for the third or fourth time at £500 I bought it with no competition. I was happy with the quality of the Geralis painting, the first of his I had ever bought.  Its market value I estimated to be double the amount I had paid. The 2004 Olympics were upon us and I was expecting everything Greek to be in demand, including art.

I was mad about investing in Greek art, as it has become apparent already, but nothing compared to what was to happen in the following couple of years.  Greek art continued improving at auction with a track record at the top of all the art markets.  It had shown a 300% improvement since 2000 and there was plenty more in the tank, I forecast. My trades in Greek art showed comparable percentage profits and at times returns were close to 1000%.  Investing more in Greek art was essential and made great business sense at the time. I could see at least doubling my money in the short term. Furthermore, Greek art spoke to me as a person, thus fulfilling the emotional need of art investment. 

The Internet had become my best assistant and right hand by 2000. I could get to it quickly and travel the whole world in minutes looking for bargains in a million and one auctions.  The downside was that it was also available to everyone else.  So, where was my edge since so many millions could access the Internet like myself? 

·         In-depth knowledge and a hard-working ethos! 

·         All the tools of investing successfully were at an instant’s recall in my head and my home.  I had all the resources required to make successful investments quickly, with little or no need for outside research.

·         My expertise in Greek art was very good and more importantly up to date with prices achieved at auction in the last few years. That was the most significant part of my knowledge. If there was a case of unknown and interesting, I had the catalogues, the indexes, the encyclopedias and literature required to inform myself quickly and act accordingly.

December was here and the year was coming to an end.  Taking a break that Saturday 14th December 2003, I surfed the sports pages to relax and forget the art addiction that had recently led to even more investments.  But that is easier said than done!  Looking at art was a form of relaxation for me and an intoxicating medium. From site to site I ended up on the website of ‘IEGOR’ in Montreal.

 

Oh brother, second time out the Internet excites!

Apostolos Geralis

(Greek, [1886-1983], Very successful figurative painter of peasant Greek women and men in their domestic chores. Auction price range £1500- 25,000)

16th December 2003, IEGOR Quebec, Canada - 10th May 2004, Sotheby’s London

How did I miss that paintings auction? My, my! It was supposed to be Christmas in a few days’ time, but for myself that was the time to hunt for a bargain, if there was one in Canada. Most people were getting into a festive mood, but I was still at work and looking for investment opportunities all done from home and all enjoyable. No time to waste. The sale was in twenty-four hours and I had just a few hours that Saturday to arrange bidding, if anything was of interest. The time in Montreal was about four in the afternoon.

One after the other the paintings were not for me. I was not disappointed, but then there had to be a Greek painting and a bargain somewhere. I felt it. I expected it. How was that?  Instinct? Hope? Stupid expectation? Who knows what it was! 

There! Once again, there was Geralis, this time the better-valued younger brother of Lucas, Apostolos Geralis!  What a lovely painting of a peasant Greek woman at 3000 Canadian dollars, or about £1500.  I liked the painting and loved the price.  I estimated the painting to be worth well over £3000.   I had to buy. That was my chance to buy a beautiful Apostolos Geralis and I was not going to miss it. First time once again! Excitement, thrill, wild thoughts of profits and riches! Greedy guts!

The arrangement to bid on the phone was set in motion immediately. No need to waste time, no research needed, no prices to be checked. I had everything in the memory bank.

Great expectations just before Christmas!  Another bargain purchase, an unexpected Christmas present from Canada! Another bout of anxiety, worry and suspense!  Was that my first purchase? Rather my thousandth one, but it felt like the first. Could I purchase another good Greek painting in the next twenty-four hours? Was I the only investor in Greek art? It was unbelievable. Either the whole world was asleep or I was daydreaming.  Was I the only one digging for treasure or was I perhaps digging a financial grave by investing 80% of my money in Greek art?  Which one was it? I was pretty sure at the time that it was treasure. I was one hundred percent sure of the rewards of investing in Greek art, but was I too full of myself and bullish? 

Sunday night arrived so quickly that I had no time to worry or fret about bidding any more.  Having splashed £25,000 on other purchases in October and November there was very little left to bid on the Geralis.  Nevertheless, I hoped that not too many people had seen the painting and that the reserve would be the winning bid.  The call from IEGOR could not have come earlier.

“Mr Constant,” the voice over the Atlantic, as clear as a bell, “two lots to the Geralis.”

Immediately the bidding started, I knew I was the only bidder and that the Geralis was mine. At £1500 the beautiful Apostolos Geralis was indeed a Christmas present from Canada. By the end of December the painting was hanging up on the wall at home and I was enjoying the art of an artist I had dreamed of buying for years.  A peasant Greek lady busy with the chores of the house filled me with pride and joy.  I deliberately stared and stared at the painting in admiration. I knew I had to cash it in soon and therefore I had to make the most of it while I could.  It was a short-term investment, a moneymaking exercise, which hopefully would work in my favour and assist me in my plans for the Olympics. 

 

 

REWARDS FOR BEING AT THE AUCTION

ATTENDING AUCTIONS IS NECESSARY AND MANY A TIME FINANCIALLY REWARDING

IF YOU HAVE THE TIME ATTEND AUCTIONS EVEN WHEN YOU PLAN NOT TO BUY ANYTHING. MIRACLES DO HAPPEN AND UNLESS YOU ARE PRESENT IN THE AUCTION ROOM, YOU CANN NEVER BENEFIT FROM ANY BARGAINS OR OTHER EVENTS.

 

Chapter XVIII             Rewards in Country Auctions

December 1989   Gorringes, Lewes Sussex

 

ANOTHER PAINTING BY WILLIAMS

Country auctions do a great job in selling all sorts of art and antiques in mixed sales. They are invaluable for quick sales and sales of small value items, which major auctions refuse to deal with. Since they are general sellers of all kinds of antiques and art, one hopes they miss something and the knowledgeable investor becomes the beneficiary of such a mistake. However, that is not to say that the major auction houses do not miss items in their sales from time to time as it becomes clear in these memoirs.

In December 1989 the markets were booming worldwide. Gorringes auctioneers in Lewes, Sussex, had their usual December auction over four days. My interest was in the paintings section to be held on Friday, the fourth day of sale. Having a great drive and still plenty of enthusiasm, I viewed the sale on the Saturday before the week of the auction. There was plenty to attract my attention, but two paintings stood out for me: a still life of flowers by Albert Williams with a very low estimate, allowing room for a decent profit, and a marine painting indistinctly signed and catalogued as by an unknown artist with an estimate of £300-500.

The signed marine oil painting interested me the most. Unlike the auctioneers, I had no difficulty in recognising the signature as Jacques Somerscales, a very respected marine artist selling regularly close to £5,000 for minor works.  I knew the artist’s work very well and had actually attributed the work to the artist before examining the signature closely. If it sold at that low estimate, it would be a bargain.

Excited and dreaming about a bargain purchase, I could not wait for the sale to happen.  I knew that a well below market value purchase would guarantee me a handsome profit equal to a few months’ earnings as a supply teacher. 

On that Friday morning I made an early start through the dense London traffic arriving at Lewes early enough to allow me plenty of time to have breakfast at a local café and go for a stroll round the small shops of the town. Walking from shop to shop in the town of Lewes has always been a pleasant experience even in winter. However, on that day my mind and my thoughts were on one thing only - the Sommerscales marine painting, a possible sleeper, ie a bargain.

I was prepared to pay up to £1,800, even though I could afford a much more expensive painting with the Ralli money expected in the bank soon.  The estimate allowed me reasonable hopes of doubling my investment within six months, and plenty more if I bought cheaply. It was pure and simple mathematics. It was business.  A good profit of up to 100% perhaps 200% within six months was on the cards.  Where else could I make that sort of money so quickly?

Following a mixed sale in a country auction or anywhere as a matter of fact bored me enormously.  I scribbled down prices indifferently, I prayed for some missing excitement but nothing was happening.  The Williams painting eventually came up for sale, and I expected it to sell close to £1000 or a little more. The auction market suggested a conservative thousand pounds or thereabouts.

Albert Williams

(English, [1922- 2010] Popular painter of still life paintings of flowers.  Auction price range £500-3000)

 “Two hundred,” called the auctioneer. A couple of hands went up, but at £350 the bidding stopped.  At that price the painting was a bargain.  With no hesitation up went my hand.

“Three-fifty I have, three-fifty, three-eighty I have,” announced the auctioneer. “Four hundred, four hundred and thirty and…four-fifty to you sir,” he said pointing straight at me.  “I have four hundred and fifty. I am selling at £450, sold at £450.”

The Williams Still Life of Roses was mine. I was happy with the unexpected purchase and advised myself: 

·         Attend auctions even when you do not plan to buy anything.

·         Follow auctions because you never know what might happen during an auction and what might sell for a bargain price.

I was pleasantly surprised to buy the Williams at five hundred pounds total, as I had expected the painting to sell well above £1000.  Was I overestimating its value?  Nevertheless, even though slightly uncertain about the retail value of the piece, I was very happy with my unexpected investment. No doubt I could make a few pounds soon enough, I reassured myself.  Flowers, roses and by an artist selling regularly close to a thousand pounds, it was bread and butter and I was not averse to that.  I was happy with my decision to attend the auction and be there early. Yes, being there, reacting quickly to the situation and bidding decisively was essential.

 

Buy and sell within a minute! 

Happy with the Williams investment, I waited patiently for the Somerscales painting to come on the rostrum. The auction was picking up steam, the bidding was thicker and more intense and suddenly pessimism overcame me. I felt there was no chance of buying the Sommerscales cheaply, as others must have seen it. Surely, others have spotted it, I kept thinking.

Gorringes mix expensive art with low value art and that formula has proven successful over the decades. Bored and anxious to finish the auction I waited for the turn of the Sommerscales sale. I could see no familiar dealers in the room. My mind was racing ahead to the purchase of the marine painting when my train of thought was interrupted unexpectedly.

“Mr Constant, sorry to interrupt you.  I’d like a word with you about the Williams you have just bought?”

Standing by one of the back walls, it was easy for one of the auctioneers’ assistants to approach me and ask this discreetly.  I looked at him lost in my thoughts and failing to understand this sudden intrusion.

“Mr Constant, there is somebody who is seriously interested in buying off you the Albert Williams painting you have just bought.”

This came out of the blue and caught me by surprise. I had heard of such things happening during auctions but never before in my case. I guess there is always a first time in everything!

“Would you consider selling it?”

“Everything is for sale,” I replied stoically, “as long as the price is right.”

“What is your price, so that I can inform the interested buyer?”

“It will cost £1200.”

Works of that quality by the artist cost close to £3000 in galleries. My rationale was that, if this person wanted the painting so much, he would have to pay me at least £1000. Horse-trading happened there and then and the final agreement was £1000, payable on Monday at my house. Apparently, the interested buyer got caught up in traffic and missed the sale.

·         Please give yourself plenty of time when planning to attend an auction to purchase something.  Arrive early and wait rather than miss something you really want to buy.

·         One hundred per cent profit within minutes of an investment cannot be rejected.

The whole story of selling the Williams took two minutes at most. That’s the way my boy, I congratulated myself.  That was two weeks’ salary!  Rest, you made the money for the week - just over 100% on that investment and within less than half an hour. 

The Lewes auction rooms had always been lucky for me whenever I traded there: Greek art in 1986, Dyf in 1988 and now Williams in 1989.   Could I get my hands on another treasure in a few minutes’ time?

I composed myself after the absolute euphoria of the Williams’ purchase and sale and waited patiently, reasonably optimistic of the next, more important purchase, the Somerscales.