KNOW THE RULES, LEARN THE RULES OF AUCTIONS

NOT EVERYBODY IS FAMILIAR WITH AUCTIONS AND THEIR RULES

IN THIRTY-THREE YEARS OF ACTIVE DEALING WITH AUCTIONS ONE LEARNS THE BUSINESS OF AUCTIONS INSIDE OUT. IT HAS ITS BRIGHT SPOTS BUT ALSO ITS SHADY AREAS, WHERE ONE MIGHT BE CAUGHT FOR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE OF THE BUSINESS OR OTHER FACTORS THAT WILL TAKE BOOKS TO WRITE IN ORDER TO EXPLAIN THEM AND CLARIFY THEM WITH FACTS AND EVENTS.

TODAY I WILL NARRATE THE SALE OF ONE PAINTING WHICH GIVES YOU MANY FACTORS YOU SHOULD TAKE INTO ACCOUNT, WHEN YOU ARE SELLING ANY ITEM AT AUCTION. NEXT WEEK I WILL EXPAND ON WHAT YOUR RIGHTS ARE AND WHAT RESPONSIBILITIES AUCTION HAVE TO YOU THE SELLER AS WELL AS THE BUYER:

John Bentham-Dinsdale

ANOTHER DINSDALE IN THE COLLECTION OF GREEKSINART

(British, [1926-2008] High quality marine artist, who specialised in historical ships and battle-scenes. Well regarded by both British and American collectors. Seriously underrated. Auction price range £1000- 6000)

Bonhams November 2001 – 21st November 2012, Christie’s South Kensington

Deceased and appreciating in value

The worry of backing the wrong market or artists has always been a serious concern. Diversifying and investing in a variety of nationality paintings, while the focus market was the Greek one, was nevertheless prudent and wise. With that basic fundamental in practice, I sought promising, underrated and undervalued artists, regardless of nationality.

Loving marine art and having invested plenty in it, I was on the lookout for the next possible Dawson of England at a reasonable price. The ‘Nightingale’ by Bentham-Dinsdale appeared at a minor sale at Bonhams, London in early 2001. It was of great quality, a good size and the ship historically important. I considered it a promising investment for the years to come because I felt the artist’s work was grossly underpriced and undersold. I managed to acquire it for £1200 and although not a bargain at that price it was nevertheless a great purchase for my personal gratification and joy as well as a sound investment for the long-term future.

Reappraisal of an artist’s work- Cashing in an investment

It is 2011 and there is a noticeable, healthy appreciation of Bentham-Dinsdale’s work both in London and New York. Two average examples of his work sold for £4000 each and others realized prices of about £3000. When something like this happens, it becomes rather obvious that the artist’s work is under the microscope of the art connoisseurs and investors.

Why the jump in Bentham-Dinsdale’s auction value? Because unfortunately he passed away in 2008! When an artist of some repute dies his/her work comes in for reappraisal and can appreciate dramatically overnight because:

· The source is gone, the number of paintings is finite and investors know that scarcity of art means higher prices.

· Dealers and investors are first to invest in the artist’s work in the hope that it will appreciate in value quickly and considerably.

What is the value of the Bentham-Dinsdale I invested in ten years ago? Well it has gradually increased in value, but it is difficult to estimate. It might be just close to £2000, perhaps £4000 or even more by the time this book reaches the readers. I expected the painting to appreciate in time and on the artist’s death, but that has come earlier than expected, even though the artist lived to be eighty-two.

Consigning a work of art at auction in 2012

21st November 2012, Christie’s London

The decision to sell any piece of art is often emotionally demanding. However, the Bentham-Dinsdale painting was an investment in 2001, plain and simple, thus it was not too difficult to part with it. Eleven years after purchase I felt the time was right to sell.

Before consigning the painting for sale with Christie’s South Kensington in August 2012 several steps had to be taken. These same steps apply to any items of art up to £100,000 when sold at auction. Before you sell your valuable investments consider the following:

· Which auction sells the artist best?

· What are the current auction results and how do they compare with the initial investment? Visit auction sites, artprice, artnet or 10000artists.com to get such up to date information.

· Make an appointment to see the expert(s) in charge or send them good photos of the painting. Emails are great nowadays.

· Make sure you have at hand all the information you need regarding the painting: provenance, literature, exhibitions etc. and ask for all the information to be written down on the consignment paperwork.

· To sell a good piece of art in the £3,000-100,000 at a major auction, you need to approach the auction house at least three months in advance.

At the consignment stage finalise the following issues:

· The sale your property will be included in – preferably a theme sale

· Reserve and estimate and therefore insurance

· Rate of commission charges

· Illustration charges

· Possible unsold charges; insist on no sale, no unsold charges

The Bentham-Dinsdale is with Christie’s for their Marine Sale of November 2012. The catalogue arrives early in November. There are only 120 lots on offer, but some of the pieces are important and promising. Needless to say, I value the Bentham-Dinsdale highly and above the £3000 low estimate. There are three other small paintings by the artist in the sale, but ‘The Nightingale’ looks superb and the best of the group. Am I praising my property once again?

21st November 2012, The Sale

Teaching between 9-12.00 daily has been the way since 2007. The arrangement suits me; it’s less strenuous and keeps everything in order. On 21st November I am asked to accompany the class I am involved with to the Globe Theatre in London. No issue, no worries. Christie’s can do the selling without my presence in the saleroom. I am missing the thrill of a sale, the triumph of an investment, but I have been through that hundreds of times.

The weather is awful with non-stop rain and gale force winds. The trip has its hairy moments with the wind buffeting us across the Millennium Bridge! Hold on to me kids! United we’re safe, divided we’re in the Thames! Ominous weather on the day of the sale! I panic a little, but am still hopeful that the sale will be a good one.

Fortunately, all safe back at school and I’m off home quickly to check the result of the sale. It comes up quickly on the computer screen: Sold £6250 inclusive of 25% commissions. I am overjoyed. A 400% return over eleven years – a contemporary British artist brings in the rewards this time round! Nationality does not matter, investment success matters!

NEXT ENTRY: RESPONSIBILITIES OF AUCTIONS

PETER CONSTANT

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