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.

 

 

GUSTAVE KLIMPT, THE MASTER OF VIENNA

I AM NO FAN OF ABSTRACTION AND ITS UNSEEN HUMANITY!!

 

LAST YEAR OR THE YEAR BEFORE I HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE TO VISIT VIENNA AND ADMIRE THE CITY OF A CENTRAL EUROPEAN COUNTRY BLESSED LIKE NOT SO MANY OTHER CITIES BY MUSEUMS AND GREAT ARTISTS OF THE LAST CENTURY AND NINETEENTH CENTURY. I AM NOT GOING TO TALK ABOUT SCHIELE AND HIS HAUNTING IMAGES BUT ABOUT KLIMPT AND HIS HAPPY MESSAGES TO OUR WORLD AND TO THE VIEWER OF HIS ART JUST ABOUT ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER.

THE VELVETERE HAD HIS MOST FAMOUS PAINTINGS AND TO SEE THE SPAN OF HIS WORK, TO READ HIS LIFE-STORY AND CONNECT IT WITH HIS ART WAS JUST AN AMAZING, INCREDIBLE STORY OF A MAN, A HUMAN AND HIS INFLUENCE ON US TODAY. HIS ICONOGRAPHY WAS ALL OVER AUSTRIA IN SMALL AND BIG SHOPS, IN ITS GALLERIES AND ITS MUSEUMS.

 

THE KISS!!

 

 

 

JUDITH AND HEAD OF HOLO

 

KLIMPT NEVER EMBRACED THE NEW TRENDS AND NEW IDEAS EMERGING IN PARIS IN THOSE YEARS. HE REMAINED A TRUE CLASSIC ARTIST WHO DEVOTED HIMSELF TO EMOTIONS AND HAPPY LIFE, RATHER THAN PAINTERLY TECHNIQUES WHICH AT TIMES BECAME DEVOID OF EMOTIONS, DEVOID OF HUMANITY BUT ONLY PAINTERLY INNOVATION.

IF ONE WAS TO LOOK AT HIS ART AS A WHOLE, KLIMPT PAINTED WHAT HE LOVED, THE WAY HE LIKED AND THE WAY HE LOVED TO PAINT. HUMANITY OF THE ARTIST CAME OUT AND IS COMING OUT TODAY AND AFTER OVER ONE HUNDRED YEARS, MAKING HIM THE CLASSIC ARTIST THAT HE IS!!

 

PETER CONSTANT

 

UNKNOWN ARTISTS SHOULD BE NO BARRIER IN ART!!

                  THE UNKNOWN ARTISTS BRING IN THE CASH

MY INVESTMENT POLICY HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO BUY WHAT I LIKE FIRST AND THEN THINK ABOUT THE FINANCIAL GAINS. NEARLY ALL THE GREEK ARTISTS INVESTED IN WERE OF THAT POLICY. ZENETZIS, KALOGEROPOULOS, PAPADOPOULOS, PAPANELOPOULOS, ANDREADIS. NONE OF THEM WAS A BAD INVESTMENT IN SPITE OF THE GREEK ECONOMIC SITUATION BECAUSE ART IS AN INVESTMENT FOR THE LONG HAUL AND AT LEAST TWENTY YEARS PLUS.

READING IN MY BOOK RAGS OR RICHES , WHAT INVESTMENTS I MADE IN UNKNOWN ARTISTS AND THEN WHAT THEY PROVED TO BE LATER, NOBODY CAN DENY HIMSELF/HERSELF THE THRILL OF BUYING SOMETHING VERY CHEAP AND REWARDING ONESELF WITH A VERY LOFTY PROFIT WITHIN A SHORT TIME, PLUS THE THRILL OF OWNING A GOOD PIECE OF ART FOR SOME TIME.

CONCLUDING MY ADVICE TO ALL MY READERS IS ONE AND ONLY ONE:

 

INVEST IN WHAT YOU LIKE, EVEN IF IT IS AN UNKNOWN ARTIST!!

 

 

AN UNKNOWN ARTIST WHEN I INVESTED £ 600.00 IN FOUR BIG

CANVASES OF HIS.

 

WHO IS HE?  100 X 150 CM PAINTED CIRCA 1950

 

 

 

Unknown artists

My story began for real when I purchased a small watercolour by an artist, Sydney Lawrence, unknown to experts and dealers at Sotheby’s. It was an investment made on aesthetic grounds that paid an art enthusiast handsomely and started my art venture. The diary has recounted many similar cases elsewhere, thus making a strong case for the argument:

                                  “Unknown does not mean worthless”  

Remember the Thon at Philips, the Coulentianos at Roseburys, Lanza at Lots Road?  These are only a small number among the dozens that I can really recount.  There are still plenty of other unknown artists waiting to be discovered.  The reference libraries, the myriad of publications on the Internet are great sources of information, but they only reveal a small part of the whole story. Unless you unite opportunity and available information you will not make that miraculous investment that might change your life.

There are thousands of unknown artists whose work merits more respect and better financial support. The auction arena is a very unforgiving and harsh environment where such work sells for a song, although worth a lot more artistically. If the artist is unknown to you but you like the piece, then buy for art, and value for money is certain to be there too. I paid thirty-two pounds for the Page watercolours at the counter of Christie’s South Kensington. Ingrald –Lund is generally unknown, but the royal content of the painting renders it valuable. What is the difference in the art of Amorsolo and his student Custodio?   The first is a famous, known artist selling over £100,000 at auction and the second one a little known artist selling for just over £1,000.

An unknown artist does not mean a bad artist; on the contrary it might mean a future master and a treasure!

 

Trendy and fashionable artists

There are times and long periods when the work of an artist is exceedingly desirable and much sought after by serious investors as well as one off investors who want to jump on the bandwagon. As a seasoned investor, I have already learned to avoid hot and trendy artists.

Many artists are trendy and fashionable, but not necessarily a good and sound investment for the future. What I advise here cannot be dismissed lightly:

·         When an artist becomes highly fashionable and trendy, the call of the sirens and respectable gurus to invest in his/her art is a loud warning to avoid investing in such art and artist.

·         Investing in an artist whose prices are frothing cannot be the best investment strategy.

Every country has its trendy and fashionable artists. They are extremely desirable and expensive contemporary artists.  They are still alive, producing work in abundance, actually too much art for comfort. Will they be that collectable and a sound investment in twenty-thirty years’ time? That remains to be seen and therefore my advice is to be careful with such investments, as their future value is not guaranteed.

Art history and auction prices talk about artists whose prices saw meteoric rises for one reason or another. Then prices gradually came down to a level that made their work affordable and one where many investors were happy to invest in. What changed?  Trends, fashions and times! Victorian art is not fashionable right now; the Pre-Raphaelites were the trendy art of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but the prices achieved about twenty years ago are not possible any more. A few investors disappeared, prices fell and the crazy prices of those are a distant memory.

It would be unwise to part with a significant sum of money because all of a sudden certain collectors chase the work of an artist. The reasons might be promotional rather than real quality of art and market forces. There is no need to mention names among the top contemporary artists, but beware of the huge bubbles that are ready to explode.  Wise are the investors who bought the art of famous contemporary artists when these artists were relatively unknown!

                   

                     “Leading the pack is much wiser than following the flock!”

 

 

 

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE!!

           MANY A TIME I WAS IMPATIENT

 

IT USUALLY ENDED IN LOSSES THAT SHOULD HAVE NOT BEEN THERE. THE ONLY REASON WAS RUSHING TO INVEST IN SOMETHING WITHOUT SECURING THE SALE AND WITHOUT THINKING ENOUGH OF WHAT THE PROPOSED INVESTMENT WAS. RUSHING INTO THINGS HAS ALWAYS PROVEN ME WRONG AND THE ADVICE HERE IS PATIENCE, NO RUSH!!

 

ALEXANDRA EXTER, A RUSSIAN AVANT-GARDE AMAZON!!

 

 

A subdued market allows me to snatch a “Real Dream Masterpiece”

Alexandra Exter

(Russian/Ukranian, [1882-1949] Avant-garde artist who embraced the movements of her day working both in Russia and Paris; among the top ten artists of Russia-Ukraine. Auction price range £10,000 – 1,100,000)

16th June 1988, Paris

The disastrous vibrations of the 1987 stock exchanges crash lasted until the summer of 1988. There was hope that something good would draw my attention during those eight months. I was praying that it would be something impressive and something that would prove to be a major investment for the future. The catalogues kept coming, the images did not attract me much, but then again, a dealer/investor in art is like a hunter, hunting for that elusive lottery-like painting.  I never lost faith in the business and I always hoped to uncover that special gem at a bargain price.

I had purchased the Dyf for immediate trading but what about the long term? The catalogue from Paris was impressive, but it was mostly of French paintings. Then I stopped on a painting by Alexandra Exter. It was impressive, provenanced and well within my range at an estimate of £4000.

Where had I seen the name?  Who was Exter?  How many investors had heard of her or knew her auction performance in 1988?  Four months earlier the artist did not ring a bell, when the same painting had sold at Sotheby’s Arcade Sales in New York for $3000. I had no interest in Exter at that time but this time round I had something more solid to rely on and started a frenzied research about her. 

Yes, four months more experience and work is a long time in any line of work. Christie’s London had sold a small watercolour of hers for £8000 in March 1988.  How many people knew about that?  How many people had spent a significant amount of money on catalogues and meticulously wrote down the results or studied the artists and memorized names and results?  How many people had spotted that sale in London and the upcoming sale in Paris at a smaller auction?  Was accumulating knowledge by the day and month going to reward a studious, hard working person like myself? Would experience and up to date auction trading tilt the balance in my favour and enable me to invest in an extremely underrated artist?

The Exter was the painting I had been dreaming of and hoping to invest in. I had no doubt about it. It was of museum quality and size. I wanted it and was prepared to pay a high price for it, the highest I had ever paid. I went headlong into researching Alexandra Exter and her art.  There were not too many sales records, but there was a lot of literature and exhibitions. My research showed her to be an artist in Kiev, in Moscow, in Paris and in Rome.  More importantly she was considered one of the top six Russian avant-garde artists. She was indeed a big name with very little auction activity.

The question was not whether to buy, the question was how much to pay for the painting? I had a war chest of £18000 and that I was prepared to pay to acquire the work. In my view and my calculations any work of an artist selling for £8000 for a small watercolour can sell for that amount and more for a much larger oil painting. I did not consider the date of execution and the difference in style that important, which I had to at some point later. Further research at the main art libraries reinforced my conviction of the value of the artist and therefore of the work. I also calculated future Russian interest, as I believed Russia was a sleeping giant coming out of hibernation after nearly a century.

Business cannot be separated from the political circumstances of the world and your perceptions of what is happening in the world.  They are inextricably linked.

The whole sum of  £18000 was ready to invest in Exter. I felt the painting was a masterpiece by a master of nearly one hundred years ago, painted in a style the whole world was looking to buy: cubist, curvelinear, archaic, figurative!

Waiting for the day of the auction was impossible. With a little luck, I had a reasonable chance of buying a masterpiece, which I hoped would be the ultimate prize of my art venture.  You might wonder why I did not jump on a plane or boat to go to France and bid on the spot for the work!  I must have had other obligations.  But I also knew that going back and forth to Paris would have cost me about three hundred pounds and there was no guarantee I would be allowed to buy the painting.  Plus, if I did go and managed to buy the painting, I would not have been able to bring it back with me because of all the hateful French bureaucracy surrounding art exportation at that time.

The day of the sale arrived and I was glued to the phone. The French were anxious to sell rather than anxious to bid against me. It was a tough time for the art market and it was the end of the season.

One, two, three and the Exter was mine at £4,800 inclusive of commissions! 

It was unbelievable. I was unsure whether to jump for joy or put my head in the sand and cry. Surely the French knew a couple of things about an artist who had spent nearly thirty years of her life in Paris.  I was not sure any more, but then again I felt I was ahead of the market by a few months, if not one year with regards to auction sales and price movements on many artists.  Sales in major auction rooms (September to August) appeared once a year in the Art Sales Indexes of the time in November/December of the following season.  Importantly, there was no Internet in those days to check prices, sales and other vital pieces of information. Thus I concluded, to prop up my wavering confidence in the painting, the Exter result at Christie’s London was not known to the masses but only to those who followed the top market and sales.

I had invested nearly five thousand pounds in a painting sold at the worst time of the year and after the worst financial event for decades and at ten thousand pounds below my top estimate! June 1988 had been a very kind month to me with two promising purchases within one week of each other!

The summer of 1988 was busy enough, but more was to happen soon to lift my spirits and give me another push forward.  The exciting world of art, my new world and new life, had more in store for me. My only wish and hope was endorsement of my plans and aspirations. Political events were pivotal in all my ideas.

I could see a sea of political and economic change in Eastern Europe and Russia, a fact that possibly few factored into their investments at that time.

 

Alexandra Exter, a great investment?

The arrival of a new investment is as exciting as the purchasing moment.  I couldn’t wait to see the Exter!  Unwrapping the painting I had such high expectations, but at first glance my spirits sank.  I was not impressed. The flimsy, cheap frame, which I took away and binned, did not do justice to the painting.  Years of neglect and accumulated dirt had taken the brightness and shine off the piece. My dream painting looked weird and incomprehensible - a cubist-futurist painting, which I found hard to interpret and live with.  It looked out of place among the other paintings I had already invested in. 

 

Exter photo, XXXXXXXXX  ( many to choose from)

Regardless of this initial negative reaction, I was still satisfied with the investment and especially with the amount of money I had paid to acquire it. It was a bargain, I kept re-assuring myself. The Russians were coming out of the cold era that communism had driven them into. All the signs of a Russian revival were there. Perestroika was happening. The major auctions were holding important sales of Russian art and things looked very promising. I was reasonably hopeful and optimistic.

In March 1989, just nine months after the Exter purchase, Sotheby’s had a Russian sale that included a couple of Exter paintings. The estimates were dizzying and I was hoping they sold and sold well, as if they belonged to me. I was expecting good results, but not the ones that followed in the next few months and years!  The sale at Sotheby’s was a tremendous success with an abstract Exter selling for £900,000 and a gouache of a ballerina for £150,000!   Christie’s had a couple of very high results too, including one of £600,000.  I went crazy with the thought that I had made the best investment ever just a few months earlier. Comparatively, I was sitting on a fortune, but is that how the art market and price of paintings work?

Dreams were streaming in my head; millions were in my thoughts.  I felt I should show my property to experts in Russian art, which I did.  I was no expert in that area, but did I have to be in order to estimate the value of my property?  Experts in certain areas have in depth knowledge and knowledge that at times disappoints. The estimates were well below expectations and hopes! The maximum I heard was £15,000, which was incomprehensible to me.  An offer from a private gallery to sell at £25,000 in late November of 1989 was rejected outright.

So, why the low estimates from the experts? 

Apparently the Exter was a painting of 1925 rather than the early teens between 1910-1924 when Exter was working between Russia and Europe in better, more desirable styles and times.  That was education for me, but I was not going to allow opinions to derail my dreams, was I?  The painting had a good provenance, but there was no history and no literature to support a high value painting, as I felt the Exter was.  I needed to put together something myself, if the painting was to become more valuable and more desirable.

Any painting of serious value must have:

·         Provenance, which this painting had

·         Literature, which the painting did not have

·         Exhibitions’ history, which the painting did not have

As far as I was concerned the painting was of excellent quality.  As soon as I had it cleaned and conserved, I believed once again in its value.  How could I work on the two areas the painting was lacking?  I had to exhibit it and have it included in a book or catalogue raisonné.

I was deep in the art business and if I did not know how to swim through this enterprise of mine, I had to learn the hard way.  Things do happen, when you make them happen! I was determined and I got on to making things happen for the best painting I had ever invested in!  Constant Art was to put Exter on the map or rather Alexandra Exter was to put ‘Constant Art’ and ‘Greeksinart’ on the map of art dealers with important paintings!

PETER CONSTANT, A BLOG OF SERIOUS EXPERIENCES