Missed Opportunities and Lamentations Today


My Blog Entry Tomorrow is All about Determination and Belief

In the 1980s I had great chances of investing in very good art but did I have the guts to go for them?

Did I have the right attitude to invest in them or did I chicken out when I should have pressed the issue at higher levels.

Bridget Riley

Another Example

It is summer 1989.

I have had a good run for three years and 1989 looked as good a year as the ones before. The acquisition of Alexandra Exter in 1988 was a major coup but there were more to target and hope to get at very low prices. The dates are irrelevant but the stories do make a lot of sense and are important for all those who see the bargains and the potential but cannot pull the trigger.

The sale at Bonhams included a really very good quality painting by Riley. It was an oil painting over 160 x 120 cm of the type coming on sale at Christies next week. The painting looked great in the catalogue and so off I went to the sale to try to buy the painting as the estimate was a low 6-10,000.

The sale was nothing to shout about but the Riley painting was striking and inviting for those who really knew what to put their money into. I was confident I would have a chance at 10,000 which was all my money. At the time the painting was valued at about 30,000 pounds and perhaps a little more.

The sale was a disappointment as the price climbed to 15,000 plus commissions of about 11.50%. I was not a happy man but I had NO money to invest in the painting at that level.

The prices for such canvas today are over 500,000 pounds. It was an unlucky event but auctions are what they are. Lucky and unlucky events.

Two more paintings stand out in my memory and on both occasions I was the underbidder. A Yates painting in New York in 1986 I could not buy at 25,000 dollars and a Giovanni Segantini at Christies King Street at 12,000 pounds in 1989.

The really wealthy people have opportunities at auction as long as they know who is who in art.

Peter Constant

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