Life takes many twists and turns for all of us. A new beginning will become a fact of life for many of us in 2020 and that makes it a duty for me to bring back my own experiences and new beginnings back in the 1980s.
My new entry today is aimed to assist many young people, many middle aged people who are thinking of a new beginning, a new career and future as I did nearly forty years ago.
The story of the amateur investor began for real in London in October 1983, 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 in 1979 that I invested in my first painting together with my wife. 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.