BARGAINS ARE A MAJOR ATTRACTION

 LOOK AT THE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE RUNNING TO BLACK FRIDAY SALES

NOBODY CAN DENY A GOOD BARGAIN. WE ALL RUSH TO IT AND WE ALL EXPECT TO BE THE ONES TO GET IT AND ENJOY IT. THIS IS NOT ONLY HAPPENING IN SHOPS WITH SMALL ITEMS BUT ALSO AT AUCTION AND ON SITES WITH LUXURY ITEMS. ALL TRADING PEOPLE DESIRE SOME SHIFT OF PRODUCTS.

WHY ARE BARGAINS NECESSARY?

PEOPLE ENTER A SHOP TO ACQIRE A BARGAIN BUT AT THE SAME TIME THEY INVITE THEM TO BUY OTHER ITEMS ON DISPLAY. THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE IN ONE SHOW OF MINE AND I AM SURE IT HAPPENS ALL OVER THE PLACE. THAT IS PARTLY THE REASON WE OFFER ITEMS FOR SALE HERE AND HAVE THEM UNDER THE BANNER OF 

BARGAINS!!

 

ANTONIS ANDREADIS, CYPRUS MUSICIANS

SIGNED, OIL ON CANVAS

80 X 70 CM

PRICE £1500

 

MAY 1992 EXHIBITION

INVITING BUYERS IN BY REDUCING PRICES ON DISPLAY ITMES 

The middle-aged couple looked in the window. They chatted for a minute or so and then walked in! The well-heeled couple was discussing the still life in the window, stopping my suicidal thoughts. I welcomed them in handing them a catalogue nervously and silently prayed for the miracle to happen. 

Letting art lovers alone to enjoy art is a must and so I retired and left them to view and discuss the paintings. After a few minutes I approached them and offered my services.

“Yes, we like many paintings, but our budget is only £2,000.”  I left them to look around once again and then they asked to buy the two paintings in the window, one by Vasilis Mastoras, a still life painter, and the other by George Gogle, an English still life artist. The total was £800 with the profits a negligible 100% on both paintings, but that was manna from heaven at that moment! A penny of profit was extremely welcome let alone four hundred pounds.

There is still hope, I thought quickly. Oxygen found its way to my lungs and some money into my empty pockets to relieve the heavy burden of failure. Then, unexpectedly, the couple turned and looked at a lovely still life of an artist I knew little about, but it was punchy, beautifully framed and in my view cheap. Priced at £1500 in the catalogue, the Jan De Ruth painting was a bargain.  It was a bargain for the buyers at £1200, the last price I offered, which they accepted happily.  I handed it to them with great relief and collected another £1200 that thankfully took care of my rents at the gallery in one go.  What a beautiful, colourful still life of roses that was!  Measuring a sizeable 125cm x 65cm, its superb frame alone was worth £500.  The deal was done, the £2000 were down and I set about wrapping the paintings quickly, sighing heavily in relief and feeling a million tons lighter and happier.  That done in a flash the paintings were in the Jaguar of the couple and hope revisited my tormented, desperate soul.

 

Thank God! Nearly out of jail! What an escape from serious money headaches! What a sale and what a turnaround!  Optimism and expectation for something more reappeared.  Could I hope for more?  Plenty of business hours to go! There was Sunday too!

INSURANCE A MUST AT HOME AND WHEN SELLING AT AUCTION

 I BEGRUDGED THE INSURANCE PAID TO AUCTIONS BUT.....

AUCTION HOUSES DO A GREAT JOB FOR THE PUBLIC BUT ALSO THEMSELVES. COLLECTING ABOUT 25% FROM PURCHASERS IS A SIGNIFICANT SUM, WHEN BIG SALES BRING IN MILLIONS. WHEN CONSIGNERS APPRAOCH AUCTIONS AND A SALE IS AGREED THEN AUCTION WISELY INSURE WHATEVER IS FOR SALE AGAINST ANY DANGER. I WOULD SUGGEST THAT MOST OF US HAVE IN OUR CONTENT INSURANCE SOME OR ALL OUR ART AND ANTIQUES INSURED.

I MUST HAVE PAID THOUSANDS OF POUNDS TO AUCTIONS WHEN SELLING ART. I NEVER MISSED THE 1.5% CHARGE BUT I WOULD HAVE MISSED THE DISAPPEARANCE OF A PAINTING ON ITS WAY TO AUCTION. THIS HAPPENED ONCE AND THE INSURANCE SAVED MY BACON.

 

 

OTOO GEBLER EXPECTED TO SELL BETWEEN 3-5000 POUNDS

 

 Stolen! What do you mean stolen?

I have not spoken about Christie’s South Kensington, London extensively yet because most of the paintings I had bought there up to 1988 were either too insignificant or unprofitable enough to mention.  I started frequenting this auction as early as 1984 and made many purchases, albeit nothing spectacular up to this point of my story.  However, the following story is unique and needs to be narrated because several lessons can be learned.

Otto Gebler

(German, [1838-1917] A well-respected and collected artist in Germany and elsewhere who painted animal scenes with sheep and cows. Auction price range £3000- 60,000)

17th March 1988, Christie’s S. Kensington – 8th April 1988, Dr Nagel, Cologne, Germany

The work by Otto Gebler had been offered for sale at Christie’s, King Street main saleroom a few months earlier but remained unsold with an estimate of £6-8000.  I attributed that failure to post stock exchanges effects. The painting was then brought over to South Kensington, where it failed to sell again with an estimate of £2-3000. That was very strange because Gebler was an artist with very good auction sales in Germany and elsewhere. 

Soon after in March 1988 that same Gebler appeared for sale a third time at Christie’s. Was it third time lucky? Yes, it was!  I was the lucky buyer at a cost of £1000!  It was a fine oil painting on panel, which on a good day in Germany could sell for £5000.  Admittedly it was small, but it had what was required; a well painted, popular subject and in very good condition.

No sooner had I bought the minute oil painting than I shipped it to Nagel Auctions in Cologne.  No procrastinating, no difficulties and no headaches at all. Sending it via the Post Office for a few pounds was easy as the painting was in total 30x20cm, including the flimsy, old frame.  The consignment documents were sent and all paperwork was in place. The agreement was £3,000-5000 estimate with a reserve of £3,000 to be sold in April 1988.  This was efficient, quick trading.

It was the second week of April, but no catalogue had arrived yet.  This was not the usual German efficiency!  Nearly all auctions have their catalogues ready two to three weeks before the relevant sale and consignors receive a copy together with a confirmation of their property for sale including estimate and reserve.  By the third week I was seriously worried!  Where was my catalogue from Nagel of Cologne?  I waited and waited in vain. Worried, frustrated and puzzled by the event, I decided to phone the auction. The telephonist / receptionist had no idea who I was and there was no Gebler of my description in the sale!  My worry increased tenfold, by which time I was passed on to one of the senior directors. That alerted me to a serious problem, but what was it?

“I am Peter Constant, sir. I cannot get a satisfactory answer to my problem. Can you please help me?”

“Mr Constant, I am afraid I have some bad news for you.”

“What bad news?”

“Your painting was stolen from our gallery!”

“What do you mean stolen? Where is my painting? What happened?”

“Please, do not panic,” the manager reassured me calmly. “Your painting was insured for £3000, at the reserve you set, and that you will get within the next month.  Mr Constant, your property was a small painting. Two robbers rushed into the gallery and took your painting and a small carpet. We chased them for some distance and we got the rug back but not the painting. It was so small and light that they got away with it. I am so sorry to disappoint you!”  He was genuinely apologetic.

“Yes, yes, I see,” I mumbled.  But, I was happy and relieved! The insurance sum was plenty enough for me!  I thanked him for the information, but I was not sorry for the theft. I was so relieved they would pay me at the reserve, a handsome profit on my investment in less than three months.  I put the phone down and sighed with relief.  Thank God it was stolen! No worries about it being sold or not!  Life teaches us many lessons daily and this was a lesson I took on board even more seriously after that event.

·         Unsold art should be respected.

·         Have a reserve on your consignments.

·         Insure your property for peace of mind with the auctioneers’ insurance or your own.

·         Have peace of mind by insuring your valuable art, even though it is an expensive policy.

 

All auctions of mention insure anything consigned to them for fire, damage, theft etc. This is a necessary expense passed on to sellers although in many cases resented by them. The proceeds from the insurance came in by the end of May and the bank account was bulging in the thousands.  For the first time since late 1986 my bank account was looking healthy, and that after a major financial disaster.  My stock was substantial, but I still lacked that one important major item.  Would I find it and bare the account to the bone?

  

WEEKLY BLOG: UPS AND DOWNS OF ART INVESTMENTS

   BUBBLES COME TO  DISASTROUS LANDINGS

 

VASILIS ZENETZIS, THE ACROPOLIS ATHENS

 

THE WORLD OF ART IS NO DIFFERENT TO THE WORLD OF FINANCE AND COMPANIES COMING WITH PROMISES OF BILLIONS BUT ENDING UP IN THE TRASH BIN VERY SHORTLY DUE TO BAD IDEAS, BAD INVESTMENTS, OBSOLETE IDEAS ETC.

THE ART MARKET BEHAVES SIMILARLY AT TIMES BUT NOT ALWAYS.

 

GREEK MARKET COLLAPSE??

 

THE GREEK MARKET HAS COME OF AGE AND ALONGSIDE THE GREEK ECONOMY AND ITS COLLAPSE COME THE BAD NEWS OF THE GREEK ART MARKET, TO  FOLLOW THAT DOWNWARD TREND. THE MARKET IS STILL BREATHING AND HOLDING JUST. IT WILL BE PREMATURE TO BURY THIS MARKET BUT THE TREND IS SO OBVIOUS THAT ALL OF US WHO HAVE AN INTEREST IN THE GREEK MARKET ARE JUST HOLDING ON STRAWS AND HOPING FOR THE BEST UNTIL THE ECONOMY IN GREECE IMPROVES. TALKING ABOUT HOLDING ON STRAWS IS THE BEST WAY WAY TO DESCRIBE THE SITUATION.

SALES IN LONDON OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS HAVE BEEN HOVERING ROUND THE 50% SOLD WITH A TOTAL SOLD BETWEEN 1-1.5 MILLION POUNDS. IT IS NOT COMPLETE ANNIHILATION BUT IT IS NO GOOD EITHER WHEN ONE TAKES INTO ACCOUNT THAT THE SALES ARE BIANNUAL AND THE BEST ONES IN THE WORLD. FROM TOATLS OF 8-10 MILLION IN SALES TO ONE MILLION IS INDEED DISASTROUS.

SALES IN GREECE AT VERGOS AND HELLENIC AUCTIONS ARE SHOWING SIGNS OF UNWILLINGNESS TO SELL WHILE IN CYPRUS PSATHARIS SHOWS SIGNS OF MAINTAINING THE LEVEL OF EARLIER AUCTIONS. ONE HAS TO HOPE FOR THE BETTER BUT THE SIGNS ARE NEGATIVE AND THE CLIMATE IN THE COUNTRY AND AMONGST INVESTORS WORLDWIDE IS NOT POSITIVE TO SAY THE LEAST.

 

ANTONIS ANDREADIS,  MAKING BREAD

 

 

WE ARE AN INTERNET GALLERY WITH 95% OF OUR STOCK BEING GREEK ART WORTH ANYTHING BETWEEN 500-100,000 FOR OUR BEST LOT. WE DO NOT SELL AS WE ARE MAINLY COLLECTORS AND THUS WE EXPECT AND HOPE BETTER THINGS WILL HAPPEN. WE ADVISE ANYBODY WHO INVESTED IN GREEK ART TO HOLD, IF IT IS POSSIBLE.

PETER CONSTANT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIEWING ART PHYSIVCALLY IS IMPERATIVE

 THE REAL THING MUCH BETTER THAN IMAGES

THE RIDE TO CENTRAL LONDON IS SHORT AND ABOUT 25 MINUTES, TAKE AWAY ONE OR TWO MINUTES. PLENTY OF PEOPLE ON THE TUBE AS WE CALL THE UNDERGROUND HERE AND OXFORD STREET WITH EVEN MORE PEOPLE AND CROWDS SHOPPING FOR NOW AND CHRISTMAS. I DO NOT LIKE CROWDS ANY MORE AND I GET TIRED VERY EASILY. ABOUT 12.00 O'CLOCK AND WE ARE IN BONHAMS ON BOND STREET LOOKING AT THE PRINTS ON THE MAJOR SHOROOM OF THEIRS.

VERY QUIET AS IT IS EARLY BUT INDEED VERY QUIET FOR THE PRINTS SALE VIEWING AND THE GREEK SALE FURTHER DOWN. GONE ARE THE DAYS WHEN ANY GREEK SALE WOULD HAVE ATTRACTED NOT ONLY MANY GREEKS FROM THE UK AND GREECE BUT ELSEWHERE TOO. THAT IS NOW REFLECTED IN THE NUMBER OF PIECES OF ART ON OFFER AND ALSO THE ESTIMATES ON MOST OF THE ITEMS. INDEED VERY LOW AND BEGGING BARGAIN HUNTERS.

PLENTY TO LIKE BUT NOT THE TOP LOTS EXCEPT THE SCULPTURE BY SKLAVOS, WHICH DESERVES THE FRONT COVER ILLUSTRATION. I AM HOPEFUL IT WILL SELL BUT THE GREEK MARKET IS IN SUCH POOR STATE THAT ONE HAS TO BE VERY CAUTIOUS. I LIKE A NUMBER OF PAINTINGS BUT I WILL STOP AT JUST ONE OR TWO WHICH SHOUT

 

QUALITY, ARTIST AND BARGAIN SALE

 

LOT 25, YIANNIS SPYROPOULOS  EST. 5- 8000 POUNDS

 

THE SPYROPOULOS PAINTING IS WELL MAINTAINED AND HAS A PROVENANCE OF A GALLERY IN NEW YORK. THE SIZE ( 60 X 80 CM)  IS VERY IMPORTANT AND THE WORK OOZES QUALITY. AT THE ESTIMATE IT IS CATALOGUED WITH, IT MAKES A LOT OF SENSE TO INVEST IN.

FURTHER DOWN THE SHOWROOM OF BONHAMS AND STANDING NEXT TO EACH OTHER ARE TWO MORE PIECES BY SPYROPOULOS BUT FROM HIS ABSTRACT PERIOD OF THE 1950S-60S WHICH IS ALSO THE PERIOD THAT MANY COLLECTORS GO FOR AND HAVE ALREADY PAID HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS FOR IT. I FIND THESE PIECES INTERESTING BUT FOR ME, THE LANDSCAPE OF SPYROPOULOS HAS THAT SOMETHING OF CUBIST TONES OF THE 1900S.

 

LOT  62 YIANNIS SPYROPOULOS  6- 8000

 

 

LOT 62 IS OBVIOUSLY A DIFFERENT STYLE AND PERIOD PLUS SMALLER THAN THE TOP ONE. YET MORE DESIRABLE AND INVESTORS PREFER IT.

BOTH PAINTINGS ARE BARGAINS COMPARED TO EARLIER PRICES PAID FOR THE ARTIST BUT THOSE WERE DIFFERENT DAYS AND TIMES.

 

PETER CONSTANT

 

REPAIRING A DFAMAGED PIECE OF ART IS NOT HARD

             THE ART TRADE LOOKS FOR ART OF UNTOUCHED CONSITION

THE TERM UNTOUCHED MEANS PLENTY TO THE ART TRADE BUT NEARLY NOTHING TO THE ART LOVING PUBLIC. I HAD PLENTY A CHANCE TO ACQUIRE ART IN ITS ORIGINAL CONDITION. THE FIRST ONE COST ME A PRETTY PENNY AS I HAD NO IDEA WHO THE RESTORERS AND REPAIRERS OF ART WERE. THUS IT COST ME A LOT OF MONEY TO RESORE A PAINTING THAT PROVED TO BE A FAKE IN THE END.

LEARNING THE ART  BUSINESS COST A LOT AND THAT WAS ONE LESSON NEVER REPEATED. ACTUALLY I FOUND THE DOOR OF INEXPAENSIVE RESTORERS WHICH SERVED ME FINE FOR A LONG TIME AND ANY TIME I HAD SOMETHING TO REPAIR AND MAINTAIN.

AS I HAVE NO PHOTOS OF BOCACCHIAMBI AT HAND I AM USING THE PANTAZIS PHOTOS WHERE RESTORATION WAS NOT THAT MUCH  BUT ILLUSTRATES ABUNDANTLY WHAT CAN HAPPEN WITH THE RIGHT RESTORATION.

BEFORE RESTORATION

 

AFTER RESTORATION THAT COST ABOUT 100.00

NEEDLESS TO SAY THAT RESTORATION COSTS DEPEND ON DAMAGE, SIZE AND HOW MUCH WORK IS REQUIRED IN HOURS. COST VARY, LOOK AND ASK AROUND.

 

 

Vikentios Boccachiambi

(Greek, [1856-1933] Painted figurative paintings of exquisite beauty and landscapes of Venice and Corfu.  Rare and well collected. Auction price range £2,000 - 8,000)

May 1998, Athens - 13th October1999, Sotheby’s London

Greek collectors demand ready to hang paintings

Meeting Dems was accidental but our business association was far from that. He had the time and the connections to acquire good art at prices allowing reasonable profits. Contemporary art was his strength but he also came up with some very good old paintings by prominent Greek artists including the Pantazis talked about earlier.

Dem’s phone call was quick and to the point. “I have a painting of Vikentios Boccachiambi for you. It’s a good painting and at a good price.  It’s a bargain as the owners need a quick sale.”

Dems was an extremely busy man. We met at The Holiday Inn in Athens that very afternoon. He entered the cafeteria like a hurricane, puffing and out of breath. It was early summer but the temperature was soaring and the heat was unbearable. Relaxing a second, Dems carried on from where he had left off on the phone. No rest, no time to rest!

“This is a great painting Peter. It is a beautiful scene of Venice, but the painting needs to be restored a little. It has a few condition problems here and there. You must see it. You must buy it. You will make money, if you buy it.”  Persuasive and adamant!

“Calm down Dems and let’s have a look at the painting,”  I replied worried about Dems health.

Rushing to the car like the wind, Dems took out the painting and handed it to me, there and then.  The Boccachiambi work was indeed a master’s work, but in poor condition. A couple of small holes, loss of paint in several spots, dirty and neglected.  It was a real gem in untouched condition. It was quality in Venice, even though I would have liked it to be a few centimetres bigger. Nevertheless, at 32x53cm it was not a miniature and importantly it was also in its original frame.

A View of Venice with The Doge’s Palace was a rather original subject for a Greek artist, but it captured the magic that is Venice wonderfully: the magnificent Dogis Palace; the famous church of Santa Maria della Salute at the mouth of the Grand Canal; the spectacular sunset glow over shimmering waters; the boats and gondolas; the busy promenade.  It was all hazy, all covered in dirt but I could see through it, underneath it. I loved it and I had to buy it.

However, I needed to follow a certain path:

·         Do not reveal your intentions and your real feelings when buying

·         Hide you enthusiasm and liking of the piece in question

·         Find regrettable faults in order to keep the price depressed

·         Bargain as much as you can. You are in Athens, Greece not Britain or America where you still have to bargain!

“What’s the asking price Demosthenes?” I asked nonchalantly.

“I’m selling this on behalf of the owners on a commission basis. They are asking for 600,000 drachmas (about £1500).”

In Greece, you always bargain and I had to bargain. Pointing out vigorously that I would need to spend some money to restore the painting and that the vendors were asking too much for a painting in such condition, I made an offer of £1200.

“I always sell at rock bottom and with 10-20% profit. My commission here is 20% and I have to make that sum. There is no way I will sell this painting below that amount.”  I argued back protesting that I would not make any money, but I was not convincing because I loved the beautiful Boccachiambi.

“No, I’m honest and am telling you the truth,” Dems thundered. “It’s going to be 600,000 and I know that this painting can sell over a million drachmas right away (£2200). It’s a great painting of Venice.” He was forceful, convincing and demanding. He was a good trader, but honest too!

He was right. The painting could be worth about £3000 in restored condition.  I was in a dilemma. Why pass such an opportunity for a couple of hundred pounds, so without much more acrimony I agreed to the sum of fifteen hundred pounds.

 

The Grand Canal restored; a symphony of colours and beauty saved

Many experts and especially dealers consider the restoration of paintings an anathema. There are valid reasons for this:

·         Restoration of works of art can turn out terribly badly as there are many unqualified art restorers. A good restorer is like a good doctor who cares about his patient and gently and patiently saves his/her life.

·         Relining and restoration might also hide professional fakes, which auctions, serious dealers and galleries do not want to know about.

·         The general advice is not to restore your artwork, if you are to sell at auction.  In London, the trade does most of the buying when it comes to British art and prefer the paintings to be in original, unrestored condition. In the country private investors are the main buyers, but unrestored art is chased to high levels by the city trade who scour the country for bargains in original, untouched condition.  In the USA paintings are bought for their aesthetic value and their auction market.

Contrary to elsewhere, 90% of Greek art sold at Greek Art Sales in London and Athens is sold to private investors who prefer to buy ready to hang paintings.  Being aware of that fact forced me to have the painting relined and restored. It was a small headache and expense, but it had to be done if the painting was to realize its true potential.

As early as summer 1987 I had a reliable restorer, a reliable framer and even a photographer. They were very good and they charged much less than the hyped names of London. Working outside London made overheads considerably lower and that suited all of us. No more wasted money like in the early days of trading. Money wasted, but experience had to be paid for, something that I feel is not necessary all the time, thus the usefulness of this diary!

Robert Mitchell and associates are a well-known art restoration business. I valued RM’s opinion greatly and I trusted his advice completely. He had always been honest, forthcoming and above all sincere and correct in his advice on matters of restoration.  The Boccachiambi was flat on his working bench.  “Wonderful painting”, he commented, looking at it critically. “It will look magnificent once restored. I need to clean it first and reline it to steady all the elements of the work.  I am confident it will look beautiful when you see it next time.”  I was sure he was right. This was not the first time he had brought a painting back to life for me.  I was extremely surprised to see how a damaged painting could recover its old sparkle so successfully.

By December 1998 the Boccachiambi was ready and I set off to RM, an hour away on the periphery of London, to collect it. I was looking forward to seeing the outcome of three months’ work and I prayed he had done a good job as a handsome sum of money depended on the outcome of his work!

Robert brought the painting out from the bottom of his working bench. He took off the jacket of light paper it was wrapped in, and miracle of miracles and hands of angels who restore fine art. The Boccachiambi had become a wonderful symphony of light, colour and human activity!  The canal sparkled and the city glowed in the evening sunset. The Palazzo shone and Santa Maria della Salute at the mouth of the canal stood out as the centerpiece of the canvas.

I was spellbound for a few moments, while Robert looked at me. I was so surprised looking at the painting and the result. It was as if I was seeing the painting for the first time. Indeed I was.  It was a new magnificent painting in an incredible colouring.

“Well? What do you think?”

“I am speechless, Robert! I don’t know what to say.  It’s great! Absolute magic!  Fantastic work and restoration, and what a result!”

 

Restored art -advantage or disadvantage?

The beauty of it all was that the restoration cost only three hundred pounds. Yes, RM was inexpensive and yet very, very good! I drove back to London knowing I had an impressive painting of 19th century Venice ready for the Greek collectors in perfect hanging order. I was confident it would be snapped up well above the £1800 it cost me, which included the restoration cost. It would give any investor joy, happiness and financial rewards too.

Why did I sell such a beautiful and much loved painting? Writing about it, I am honestly ashamed of myself.  But by the summer of 1999 I was in dire financial straits once again! Investing in many paintings and in a lot of contemporary art for the long term had become unsustainable.  Reluctantly, I had to let the Boccachiambi go in order to facilitate the inclusion for sale of other Greek art. Sotheby’s included the painting in their topographical sale of October 1999 with an estimate of £2500-3500. The expert liked the painting a lot, even though restored, but as usual the estimate was rather conservative in order to attract the buyers.

Also included in the same sale were three paintings of Vasilis Zenetzis. That was a great positive step for the first contemporary artist I was collecting and investing in. It was my opinion, and still is, that the Bocacchiambi work facilitated the acceptance of those three paintings. Consigning art in numbers always assists the inclusion of lesser value paintings in a sale.

There were thirty-eight Greek subject paintings or Greek artists in the October auction (no sales solely for Greek art at Sotheby’s yet). Nearly all thirty-eight sold, but what was the fate of the Boccachiambi and Zenetzis trio of paintings?  Sotheby’s did a great job by illustrating in colour the Venetian picture and the two important Zenetzis paintings of the Olympian Columns with the Acropolis Beyond and Kyrenia Harbour, Cyprus.

Only several good sales would rectify my financial situation.  From day one of this story it was always a case of rich in stock, but not a penny in my pocket in spite of the sale of the Ralli and Ghika.  I was an avid buyer or was it art lover and art collector unbeknown to me?  It was impossible to say what I was doing, trading or collecting art?  I had too many long-term investments, few sales for the everyday needs and my stock was biased towards contemporary art (Zentetzis and Kalogeropoulos), which I felt was the only way forward. Established artists were hard to come by and very expensive at auction where there was so much competition! I was in a hurry with no patience to wait for the right moment and investment.

Lots 26, 27 and 28 were to be auctioned before eleven o’clock and there was no way I would have missed the sale had it been possible to attend. Unfortunately for me I could not do that, and so my friend Peter volunteered to follow the sale and relay the results to me.  Always optimistic about any sales I had, I waited for Peter’s call and the good news. Considerably nervous, anxious and terribly impatient to hear the news I could not wait any longer. I paced the classroom faster and faster, holding the mobile tight staring at it. Ring! Ring!!

 

My phone was silent. Pacing the classroom uneasily I felt like a tiger locked up and chained in a cage.  Eleven o’clock passed and no message. I trusted Peter!   He was supposed to call me as soon as the sale of Greek art was over. What had happened? Why was he late in calling me?  The longer he delayed the call the worse it became for me. It seemed an eternity even though it was just a few minutes after eleven.  Finally the phone rang. Peter sounded happy!  I knew it was good news.

The Boccachiambi sold for £4000 and the Zenezis …( read elsewhere).  What a relief!  It justified and confirmed my belief in the painting.  Buying a painting needing restoration, bringing it back to an admirable condition for sale and then selling it for that amount was extremely satisfying. It was a return of 100% over eighteen months. Dems was the man with the goods and the sale proved didactic with new lessons learned and new knowledge acquired.

The Boccachimbi story makes it abundantly clear not to despair over a damaged or in need of restoration painting. Remedies are available, at a price of course. Have in mind the following important issues:

·         Calculate the costs and possible value of the restored item. The expenses on restoration should not be more than 20% of the value of the painting in restored condition. 

·         Be aware that experts look at relined and restored paintings suspiciously and so take photos of the work before restoration starts. Take as many photos as you can of the front and the back of the painting.

·         Keep the original old frame or have it restored if it is worth the trouble and does justice to the painting. Remember that a frame becomes part of the canvas when they are successfully matched.

·         Restore a painting if the intention is to keep it for private use. Avoid restoration where possible, if the item is to be sold through auction.

On the subject of experts and expertise I must conclude with the following points.  They have been crucial in my quest for riches throughout the thirty years I have been trading. I have benefited enormously from their expertise (Lawrence, Jongkind, Montezin, Ralli) and I have suffered minor losses (Harpignies).  More importantly they have made it possible for me to profit hugely from investments in artists they failed to catalogue correctly (Giallinas, Thomopoulos, Ghika, Thon, Coulentianos, Lanza).

However, it has been my own judgement and knowledge that has played the most significant role and been the best guide throughout my art journey, although I did make a few errors along the way (Parthenis). Please remember that experts err, they change opinion, they become irrelevant often and new expertise and opinion justifies your view. Be patient and never dispose of a work of art just because the current expert’s opinion is negative.