THE SLAE I REGRETTED BUT WAS HAPPY TO HAVE AT THE TIME!

ALWAYS REGRETTED THE SALE OF GOOD ASSETS!!

BEING AN INVESTOR, I HAD TO SELL IN ORDER TO RE-INEST. THAT WAS A GOOD POLICY AT THE TIME AND PERHAPS AT ANY TIME. HOWEVER, SOME ASSETS MUST BE CONSIDERED NEVER FOR SALE AND ALWAYS KEPT AS A SECURITY. I AM AFRAID I NEVER DID THAT AND THAT IS ONE OF THE FAILURES OF MY INVESTMENT STRATEGY!!

 

NEW YORK 1986

 

New York, here I come!

How on earth does an amateur make it to New York and try to enter a masterpiece for sale?  That was the million-dollar question, but I was not to be put off by such details. Never one to retreat, never one to buckle under pressure and lack of experience, I jumped into situations and came through difficulties a more mature, experienced and tougher man, even though on many occasions emotionally bruised and hurt at times. Armed with a huge desire to succeed and prosper, no obstacle was high enough to stop my quest in art. 

I aspired high and I was inspired!

 

First things first, though, I had to pay for the Hofmann and then have it shipped to London.  It was essential to show the experts in New York that the painting had come from London and that I was not a dealer who had bought the painting only a couple of months earlier in San Francisco. That was imperative because auctioneers always like fresh paintings on the market.  The Seago experience and lessons learned from that trade were invaluable.  The way I handled that sale was flawed and very amateurish thus the bad result. I had already worked out the reasons for failure and avoiding the same mistakes was crucial to the success of the investment.

·         Being a private individual than a dealer is preferable to auctioneers and experts! I had to play a role.  It was not deception!  It was marketing!

·         Freshness on the market of any work of art is important and preferred, thus I had to conceal the recent sale in San Francisco!

The painting arrived in London by the middle of July. The box was big but much bigger was my anxiety and eagerness to see the Hofmann and marvel at those colours I had heard so much about. The wooden box protected the work well; professional packaging at a price was paid for.

Out of the box came the Hofmann, my hands trembling and anxiety mounting - no laughing matter. It was eleven thousand dollars worth of art and perhaps fifty thousand by the end of the year.  Wraps off; greens, red, orange, black.  Black!!! Never seen anything similar before. The thick board was covered in greens and oranges with a little bit of red and then a SPLASH, a rich splash of ebony black paint thrown on top of everything else! The finished composition was magnificent and the splash of black was indeed its trademark. That made the painting stand out but also confirmed it as of that period of the artist’s work. 

It was stunning. It was a master’s creation. It was Hans Hofmann!  What did the painting show?  What did Hofmann want to say? I puzzled over this for some time but it was just guesswork. The artist was dead and there was no way anybody could explain the meaning and purpose of the painting except the artist himself.  As H.W.Beecher says,

 “ Every artist dips his brush in his own soul and paints his own nature into his pictures.”

I immediately got on to work with the two major auction houses in New York.  Sotheby’s estimated the painting at $30,000-50,000 and Christie’s $15,000-25,000.  Better results were achieved at Sotheby’s and so my decision was to consign the Hofmann with them.  I made sure that several issues that worried me were discussed prior to my travelling to New York:

·        It was agreed that the painting would be entered in the best sale and in Part One of the Contemporary Art sale in November 1986.

·        An illustration cost to my liking was fixed.

·        The reserve was guaranteed between $30-50,000.

·        I could not ask for 6% trade commission because I presented myself as a private seller from London.

“I shall see you in New York next week with the painting, sir,” were my final words to the expert in charge. Thus, preparations to conquer my new world of art began; tickets and exportation documents from the UK, importation in the United States at Kennedy Airport with a reputable agency. Everything was a new experience. I was apprehensive but determined to do things perfectly.

 

Pan Am had no arguments in taking in the well-packed Hofmann as cargo and me as a passenger with a baggage-load of inexperience. That was roughly three years after I had started the art business and I was selling paintings at the biggest art auctions in the world. It was an amazing experience already but it was gradually getting better, more exciting, more demanding and more challenging on my whole lifestyle and emotions.  Indeed, it had been an unbelievable journey into the world of art up to that point!  Could it get any better? Were there any more surprises? Were there new heights to scale which I still could not dream of nor imagine? This journey was at its beginnings! I did not know!

 

The Odyssey in art had just begun, but would I reach my Ithaca!

 

THE BARGAIN I NEVER KEPT FOR NOW

IT IS MUCH HARDER TO AQUIRE A BARGAIN TODAY!

IT WAS NOT SO BACK IN THE 1980S WHEN THE INTERNET WAS NOT KNOWN TO MOST OF US AND WHEN THE SECRETS OF BARGAINS AROUND WERE THE PRIVILEGE OF THE FEW. IT WAS SUCH A SITUATION THAT LED ME TO THE PURCHASE AND INVESTMENT IN A GREAT PAINTING BY THE AMERICAN EXPRESSIONIST HANS HOFMANN!!

 

 

 

 

Hans Hofmann at $10,000 excites the imagination!

 June 1986, San Francisco

With the disappointment of the Seago experience history, I looked ahead to sales and catalogues for my next investments. It became very clear to me that on several occasions when I had invested in Modern British art I had made no money of mention. The Seago investment confirmed that and turned me off that market. There is no point in flogging a dead horse! Modern British art was a no-go area for me! Too many investors were chasing the same thing and that limited the profit margins to nearly nothing. Where could I turn my eyes on next and make a sound investment? I did not know, I could not even guess; it was extreme frustration to have money sitting in a bank account.

It was early June and the eagerly awaited Butterfields and Butterfields June catalogue finally arrived. I looked through it quickly, always chasing 19th Century paintings and Impressionists, but nothing caught my attention or attracted me to look further. The collection in that catalogue was poor. Disappointed and frustrated, I put the catalogue aside for another look later.  Catalogues, new or old, were revered; they hid the secrets of success and treasures!

Some practices I put into action in this business early on proved extremely helpful and at times highly profitable both in the early days of my dealing life and of course later.  Gradually they became habits of immense importance that rewarded the faithful student.

·         Buying catalogues and reference books, although expensive, was essential and rewarding.

·         Studying new catalogues and names in them many times. That kept the names in my memory bank and helped me when I was in an auction without catalogues or reference books. These I could not carry around as they were too many by now, heavy and cumbersome. 

·         Writing down names of artists in booklets and memorizing names daily.

·         Attending viewings and auctions without fail.

·         Revisiting old catalogues time and again; no doubt this assisted me in the quest for bargains.

It was such a revisiting of an old catalogue that woke me up to the contemporary painting of Hans Hofmann in the Butterfields sale. I saw the name in this old catalogue, it rang a bell, but where had I seen it? Which catalogue was it in? Back to the Butterfields catalogue and there it was. What a stroke of luck!  What a good student I was and what a possible reward!

 

Hans Hofmann

(American, [1880-1966] A German born American abstract expressionist artist who profoundly influenced art in the USA with his teaching and his avant-garde art of the 1940s and 1950s. Auction price range $10,000- 6,000,000)

Yes, the Contemporary Art catalogue of Sotheby’s I had bought in October or November 1985 showed two or three paintings of Hofmann selling at $50,000 plus. That was it.  Could I trade an American artist in America from west to east? I had traded art from auction to auction in London, I reasoned, why not from San Francisco to New York?  San Francisco is as close to New York as London, even though in the same country.  I locked on the painting immediately and a frenzy of research in two countries, the UK and USA followed.

Roman, the Butterfields’ expert, informed me that the painting was great!  It was colourful and fresh on the market, provenanced by Kootz Gallery and of a very good period. “It’s worth a few thousand more,” he advised me.  Excitement!

I was happy with the information, but I was not satisfied with just the few results I had gathered about the artist’s auction sales. I needed to find out more, so I wisely spent a few pounds on the phone. I called Christie’s to find out about their contemporary sales and whether there were any Hofmann works with them. I did not have their November nor March catalogues, but I was informed that the sales of paintings by Hofmann were in the $30,000-50,000 bracket. 

It became evident by the end of my research that the Hofmann painting was worth at least double, if not five times as much as the estimate of Butterfields.  “Nobody is interested in Hofmann’s work and you can buy it at $10,000,” Roman confided.  Was Roman telling me the truth?  I always respected his honesty, his opinion on the quality of paintings and his assistance in every deal I had at Butterfields! This was a more important painting however and I was worried in case the expert had a last minute interested party.

I had the funds to invest, the money from the Seago sale, and this was a fantastic opportunity to make a serious profit this time round! Absolutely great!  Hofmann was a much more important artist, for a much larger and powerful market and country. This investment seemed far more exciting than the Seago, but surely millions of Americans would see it and of course go for it!  Would I be able to buy it at ten thousand dollars?  Impossible!  American dealers would outbid me for sure!  However, there was nothing to stop me from trying to buy and on my own terms.

So why was there such a low estimate?  I could not comprehend it. It was a puzzle but what a puzzle to have a headache about!  Was there anything wrong with the Butterfields painting?  I went over the headache called Hofmann many times and I reasoned:

·         Roman was always honest with me, so I concluded quickly, no problem with authenticity!

·         The auction estimated conservatively.

·         People had not seen the painting or they were not interested in it! After all it was such a splash of black colour on a board. Unattractive!

I had to grab the opportunity and risk the whole bank! Such opportunities rarely appear and if not taken, never reappear.  I slept over the issue for nights. I had sleepless nights thinking about the investment and then…

Bid and buy was the firm decision!  Besides, I could see nothing more promising to invest in anywhere else. I hoped to buy the Hofmann on the phone that morning in early June and at the reserve price of $10,000.  If successful, I would be left with a couple of thousand in the account, literally penniless once again. What a vicious circle, but who was to blame for that? Myself, my addiction to buying art and my desire to accumulate profits quickly and while the iron was hot.

Buying an expressionist painting by a highly significant name at $10,000 was an event one never forgets - more so for an investor who three years earlier could barely afford a one hundred dollars painting. It was all so incredible!  Was I in another world dreaming or was it all happening by accident on planet earth? I was lost in the art world. It was a dream world I enjoyed, a world I loved and one that delivered me riches.  What a beautiful world!

Four o’clock in the morning London time was like midday for me. The nightbird was up singing much earlier than the auction time, unable to close his eyes, unable to suppress the excitement of a new major investment, impatient for that phone call.

It was finally time.  “Six lots to the Hofmann, Mr Constant.”  I paid no attention to any other results; all I wanted to know was about the Hofmann.

“How are the colours of the Hofmann, miss?”

“Beautiful, with a running splash of black!”

 

In no time, the painting I had dreamed of for about two weeks was up for sale. I was a bundle of nerves. Butterflies in my stomach, heartbeat accelerating but determination and iron will to invest. It was my biggest opportunity to buy a very important artist and my most expensive painting ever. I was risking about 80% of my cash. Could I make a 50% profit from this investment?

My wild thoughts and calculations were interrupted by the voice of the auctioneer, “Hans Hofmann.”

“Here we go sir,” intervened the young lady.  “Seven thousand, sir!  Are you bidding?”

“Yes, seven thousand.”

“Seven five hundred against you.  Eight thousand against you,” and it became obvious to me that the auctioneer was bidding himself to reach the reserve.

“Ten thousand, ten thousand against all in the room, on the phone.”

 At ten thousand dollars the Hofmann was knocked down to me.  Feelings of relief and fear of failure flooded through me at the same time.

“Ten thousand to us, sir. It’s ours sir. Congratulations! It’s a beautiful colourful painting.”

I was ecstatic!  This was compensation for the Seago disappointment, I felt sure about it. It was over. I had bought the painting at $11,000 ($1,000 was commissions, no taxes as the work was to be exported to the UK).  I was the owner of a contemporary painting by the American Expressionist, Hans Hofmann!  What an exciting purchase!  Was it a profitable one though?  Or would I have another experience similar to the Seago?

It felt unbelievable, but immediately the Hofmann started causing me enormous anxiety and worry. I felt I had made a giant step up in art investments, but I was absolutely unprepared and completely overwhelmed by it. It was just too soon after the start of this venture. Worrying questions started to surface.  How do I sell such a painting in another country?  How do I get a masterpiece to New York?  How do I approach the two major auctions of New York to sell such an important painting so soon after buying it?

 

The Seago experience at Sotheby’s had been pretty didactic as well as traumatic. Was I prepared for more such events and snooty people or was New York a different environment?  I knew that Americans were very down to earth people from the years I spent there, but were the art experts of the same mould?  New York’s auctions were unknown to me, but I had to crack that problem and get into the markets there in person! I had already shipped a painting for sale to Sotheby’s and a couple more were ready to be consigned soon.  It was worth my while going to the Big Apple and meeting the people I was dealing with in person. It always helped to know them in England, why not in New York?

 

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK!!

 

 

 

NEW MARKETS, NEW INTERESTS, NEW INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES!

NEW MARKETS APPEAR AND DEMAND ATTENTION

 

PAUL GUIRAKOSSIAN, LEBANESE

OVER THE 34 YEARS I HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THE ART MARKETS WORLD WIDE, I WITNESSED FLOURISHING MARKETS, COLLAPSING MARKETS AND STEADY UPWARD MARKETS THAT APPLY MOSTLY TO THE PEOPLE WITH REALLY DEEP POCKETS. NEVERTHELESS, THERE CAME TIMES WHEN EVEN THESE TOP MARKETS WERE TESTED BY WORLD FINANCIAL EVENTS LIKE THE 1987 COLLAPSE OF STOCK EXCHANGES OR RECESSION OF 1990S. IN SPITE OF ALL THOSE EVENTS ART IS A GOOD VIHECLE TO MAKE GOOD RETURNS ON YOUR MONEY IN ADDITION TO JOY AND SATISFACTION LIVING WITH ART.

THAT IS SERIOUSLY IMMEASURABLE!!

THE MARKETS OF THE FAR EAST ARE STILL GOOD FIELDS TO BE INVOLVED AS THERE IS GREAT POTENTIAL IN MANY COUNTRIES FROM INDONESIA, PHILIPPINES, KOREA, VIETNAM, CHINA AND JAPAN TOO. IN MY ARTICLE TODAY I FOCUS ON A NEW EMERGING ART MARKET,

 

 

THE MARKET OF MIDDLE EAST!! 

EVEN THOUGH THE MIDDLE EAST IS IN THE MIDDLE OF WARS, TEARING APART SEVERAL COUNTRIES, ITS ART MARKET STILL CONTINUES TO IMPRESS AND ACHIEVE BETTER RESULTS, SEASON AFTER SEASON. THE RECENT SALE IN DUBAI BY CHRISTIES SHOWS ABUNDANTLY THAT ART PRICES OF ARTISTS OF THE AREA ARE IMPROVING BY A GOOD PERCENTAGE. THERE ARE NO SIGNS OF THIS ART SLOWING DOWN BUT ON THE CONTRARY IMPROVING IN SPITE OF THE UPHEAVALS IN THE AREA.

IRAN IS NOT AT WAR OF COURSE AND THERE WE SEE REALLY ROBUST PRICES THAT PROMISE MUCH BETTER TO COME. EGYPT IS NOT IN THE BEST ECONOMIC SITUATION AND YET ITS ART IS SHOWING GOOD SIGNS OF GROWING AND GOING HIGHER AND HIGHER.

THE WAR IN IRAQ, SYRIA HAVE DEFINITELY AFFECTED THE LOCAL MARKETS AND YET THERE ARE MANY ARTISTS FROM THESE COUNTRIES WHO SELL WELL AND SHOW SIGNS OF SELLING MUCH BETTER IN THE FUTURE.

FINALLY, ONE HAS TO LOOK AT THE MIRACLES HAPPENING IN LEBANON AND THE ART OF THE COUNTRY GOING PLACES. MANY ARTISTS FLOURISHING, HIGH PRICES ACHIEVED AND YET, LEBANON WAS IN CIVIL WAR MODE ONLY A FEW YEARS BACK.

CONCLUDING, I SAY WITH PLENTY OF CONVICTION THAT THIS IS A MARKET THE ART INVESTOR MUST LOOK INTO AND INVEST IN IT!!

 

PETER CONSTANT

 

CONTEMPORARY ART; UPS AND DOWNS!!

IT IS NEVER ONE WAY TRAFFIC!!

I THOUGHT IT WAS UNTIL I BOUGHT THE KALLOS PAINTING AND THE WORLD EVENTS OF 1990 STOPPED THE BUBBLE OF ART IN THOSE YEARS. NOTHING WARNED US OF THE GULF WAR AND THE SUBSEQUENT LONG DEPRESSION WORLDWIDE BUT ESPECIALLY IN UK AND EUROPE.

PAINTED 1962

THE KALLOS I PAID FOR NEARLY 6,000 POUNDS REMAINED UNSOLD IN FRANCE AND THEN CAME BACK TO LONDON TO BE IN THE COLLECTION EVER SINCE. WHEN IT WILL SELL AND HOW MUCH IS NOT CLEAR YET BUT ONE THING I AM SURE OF; IT WAS A BAD INVESTMENT AND BAD TIMING.

THE CONTEMPORARY ART OF TODAY IS PUSHING AHED AND FORWARD BUT I AM NOT SURE WHICH ARTIST WILL BE THE BEST TO RECOMMEND AND ADVISE YOU TO INVEST IN. IT IS ALL CONTEMPORARY, IT IS ALL TEMPORARY AND NOTHING IS PERMANENT.

I SAY ENJOY THE ART AND FORGET THE MONEY ISSUES!!

 

SOME YOU WIN AND SOME YOU LOSE!!

 

PAINTED CIRCA 1950

 

 

 

PAINTED 1994

 

PETER CONSTANT

FUN AND FINANCIAL REWARDS, HAND IN HAND!!

NOTHING MORE EXCITING INVESTING IN ART FOR LOVE OF ART AND MAKING MONEY TOO!!

I HAVE ALWAYS WONDERED AND ASKED MYSELF; IS IT ABOUT ART OR ABOUT MONEY? I AM STILL ASKING THE SAME QUESTION TODAY AND I DEFINETELY KNOW KNOW. IT IS LOVE FOR ART, OTHERWISE I WOULD NOT HAVE SO MUCH ART GATHERED AND REFUSED TO GET RID OF IT, THE WAY I ACCUMULATED IT.

 

Patience, perseverance and belief rewarded

William Thon

(American, [1906-2000] Respected artist whose value is improving fast.  Honoured and well collected in his native city Portland, Maine, where a museum in his name has been established. Auction price range £500-7,000)

 

13th November 2001, Phillips Bayswater, London  - 31st July 2002, Barridoff Galleries, Portland, Maine USA

Viewing paintings auctions at Phillips Bayswater, London was routine business for years.  I did that week in, week out with no fail.  Believing in bargains was no forlorn hope.  Perseverance was the only way to find them and when others had had enough of hunting with no returns.

Nothing attracted my interest when viewing in the main rooms that November in 2001. Disappointed and unhappy, I took the way out, mumbling to myself “what a waste of time that was!”  Yes, I felt like that on many occasions, but I also knew that some day I would uncover that elusive sleeper, that elusive bargain, my reward, when others had cried out enough!  Patience and perseverance reward those who exercise them. Difficult to follow the same motto for years, year in, year out, but I kept going to Phillips because it had proved worthwhile on so many occasions.

Depressed and disappointed, head down, I stepped slowly out into the corridor, just outside the main selling room.  It was only then, when I looked up, that I spotted a rather interesting painting in between a couple of others hanging on the corridor wall.  Perhaps I was looking in the catalogue or was deep in thought when I had first walked past.  Regardless, I had missed it on my way in!

I stopped for a moment and stared at the Cathedral painting.  I liked it. I liked it a lot, but who was Thon, the artist who signed the painting? I had never heard of that name.  But there was quality in the large oil on canvas and I needed nothing more to buy. I had enough money from the Exter sale to invest for the long term.  It was no good sitting in a bank account- it had to be put to work! 

 

My bid of £480 plus commissions was successful and I became the owner of a quality painting by an unknown to me artist but hopefully a promising one. Investing in a painting on aesthetic grounds and value for money was not new, but was the Thon a wise investment?  How many such paintings could I afford?  Did I have to pay £550 for a painting by an artist I knew nothing about?  The artist is the primary attribute on any painting, though subject is important too. Unfortunately my limited search on the artist called Thon yielded no positive results and no sales anywhere.  However, I did not worry at all, as I was still convinced I had bought quality and value for money.

Who was Thon?  Was s/he English, American, Canadian, Australian or what?  I hoped s/he was at least known and more would be heard about the artist in due time.  The exhibition label on the reverse of the painting indicated a respected and accepted artist, but how long could I wait, a year, a decade?  What is a year or even ten years when investing in something that you enjoy looking at and getting pleasure from?

 

WILLIAM THON

 

 

Invaluable investments and moneymaking tools!

The Art Sales Index was the main publication of sales’ results from all over the world in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. I bought it annually and never regretted the investment. It was my right hand in researching artists and their possible value at auction and I still own and refer to them regularly.  It is no exaggeration to say that investments in tools for the business rewarded me five-fold at least or shall I say twenty-fold for good measure? Today’s main information sites are the Internet websites ‘artprice’, ‘artnet’ and ‘AskArt’ but they are rather expensive and their provision of information lasts as long as your subscription does. The new website 10000artists.com attempts to offer a cheaper alternative with no time limits.

The 2001 publication of the Art Sales Index arrived in late November and included a couple of sales by a William Thon, an American artist. I had no idea whether the Thon I had recently invested in was by the same artist, but experience dictated the way forward. I had done the same some seventeen years earlier with the Laurence, that early miracle that had opened the door and paved the way for my art venture.  I had to do the research and the detective work myself. 

·         A good investor knows how to find out about his/her stock and how to market it in order to get the maximum out of the investment.

·         The major auction houses will not do that for anybody unless the work in question is worth a few thousands of pounds and by an established, known auction artist.

·         Auctions have no idea who some artists are at times and Thon was one such example for Phillips, the third biggest auction in the world in 2001.

On calling Barridoff, the auction that had sold the artist referred to in the sales index, I found out that William Thon was a native of Portland Maine, USA. In addition, Mr Barridoff of Barridoff Galleries, Portland, Maine, gave me two very important pieces of information:

·         The artist had passed away recently - a fact that nearly always assists to higher prices for the work of the artist. 

·         The city of Portland had established a museum in Thon’s honour, a good indicator of the significance of the artist.

That information was music to my ears.  A deceased artist and a museum in his name spoke of a good collecting public. I took it all in and anticipated significant interest in the artist in his native city.  However, my worry was not so much about the desirability of the painting, but the sale itself far away from home and with an auction I had not done business with before.

 

First time requires trust

It was first time with Barridoff, but how many times had it been first time and it had worked?  Mr Barridoff was enthusiastic on hearing about the painting and my desire to sell it through his auction galleries. On receiving images and information he believed the painting to be worth between $2000-3000.  That estimate did not match his earlier enthusiasm, but that was another ploy of auctioneers to attract buyers, bargain hunters that is.  Estimate low; sell for sure!  His estimate was hardly encouraging in view of the earlier sales at his gallery auctions. However, I had no option so I was prepared to experiment and take a risk for profit. I felt the painting was worth considerably more than the low estimate, perhaps double or treble that amount.  Would the local collectors speak with their wallets endorsing my view or Mr Barridoff’s?

In May 2002 FEDEX tramsported the painting to Portland.  Mr Barridoff liked the work upon inspection, but unfortunately still insisted on the $2000 starting price, low estimate and reserve. In spite of that, I was still hoping that the painting would sell more than that, simply because it was an impressive canvas that had also been exhibited at a major public exhibition.

Summer arrived quickly finding me on holiday in Spain. Thon was coming up for sale in Portland, Maine USA with plenty of worries and disappointments.  The cataloguing was poor and the black and white illustration did not do justice to the painting.  Far worse was the omission of the exhibition history of the painting.  Paintings exhibited at important museums or galleries are valued more than other paintings of similar quality and subject by the same artist.  I was extremely unhappy and upset with Barridoff.  Being far away from the sale venue was an issue, nevertheless I complained vigorously and demanded a correction, which was made apparently.

Many worries reside at the back of one’s mind, when selling abroad:

·         It’s far away and one cannot see first hand what is actually happening.

·         The item might remain unsold in which case shipping it back and forth can be dangerous and expensive.

·         Would unknown auctioneers be reliable and trustworthy?

·         Would there be honest or dishonest bidding and rings? (A ring is an agreement between at least two people not to push the price on an item and thus buy it cheaply.)

I was worried, but I was also aware that the auction was a good venue selling major paintings, but more importantly selling successfully the artist called Thon.

 

31st July 2002, Spain 

The day of Thon’s sale was unlike any other selling day I had experienced. I was enjoying myself in the Mediterranean and forgot my worries about the sale in Portland!  The fact that I had invested a small sum in the painting made my anxiety less, far less.  Four o’clock Spanish time, 10.00am USA time, the day after the sale; time to find out the result!

 I entered the burning and suffocating phone cubicle at the resort near Malaga and quickly dialled Barridoff Galleries.  A cheerful voice promptly greeted me on the other side of the Atlantic.

“Can I have a result of yesterday’s sale please, lot 160.”

“Lot 160, lot 160, the Thon, sold for nine thousand dollars, sir.”

“Nine thousand? Did you say, nine thousand, miss?” I could not trust my ears.

“Yes, sir! Nine thousand dollars, sold!”  No doubt, loud and clear!

I put the phone down and let out a wild yell!  Out of the fire of the cubicle, I danced wildly in the street like a madman.  I ran, I stopped, kissed my wife and crossed myself, thanking my lucky stars! It was unbelievable; I was so happy!  Spain and the world around me looked even more beautiful than it had a few moments earlier!

Love for art had rewarded me with a 1000% return on the $800 initial investment.  That had been an investment made purely on art appreciation and aesthetics.   I had started buying art for myself some thirty years ago because I loved it. That love had turned into a venture, but all along it has been love for art, not just money!

The incredible joy and satisfaction I always get from looking at and admiring my collection of paintings is impossible to describe and put on paper.  I live in a dream!  I enjoy the dream!  Then I open my eyes wider and realize it is reality, not a dream at all!  It is my world, a real world.  Within the last thirty odd years I have managed to amass beautiful paintings, a unique collection from which I derive immeasurable pleasure and happiness. Such is the route to art riches: be they monetary or emotional.