MR CONSTANT, IT WAS STOLEN!!

NO WORRIES, I BOUGHT IT FROM…

WHEN YOU BUY OR SELL AT AUCTIONS, YOU BUY OR SELL IN GOOD FAITH AND THE AUCTIONS TRUST YOU. THAT WAS THE CASE WITH ME BACK IN THE YEARS I WAS ACTIVELY INVESTING IN ART.

JACQUES SOMMERSCALES WAS AMARINE ARTIST!

A MARINE PAINTING BY LEON KALAOGEROPOULOS. THE PAINTING WILL BE INCLUDEDED IN MARINE EXHIBITION OF OCTOBER – NOVEMBER 2017

“The police want to question you, Mr. Constant!” Second unlucky event

October 1990

The sale of the Somerscales painting was as uneventful as its purchase earlier. Nothing was strange or unusual about the transaction at the time until I received a call from Sotheby’s in early October 1990. “Mr. Constant?” the polite voice of a Sotheby’s employee asked. “The police are inquiring about the Somerscales painting you sold with us in May. Please be prepared to accept a call from them.”

“What is the problem?” I asked in disbelief.

“Apparently the painting was reported as stolen.”

It was as if I’d been hit by a thunderbolt! My stomach churned and I felt nauseous. No way! It cannot be stolen, but how could I be sure about that? That had never happened to me before.

Soon enough, the police called at the house. The two CID officers walked in quietly and apprehensively. One of them spoke Greek, no doubt expecting me to be a low life individual in the habit of stealing paintings and speaking no lingo! The officer in charge was polite, but I was more interested to hear about their evidence that the painting was indeed the property of somebody who had nothing to do with the sale at Gorringes a year earlier. I knew I would lose £2000 of profit, if the painting proved stolen. They had nothing to show me. No photos! That was a relief!

“Where did you get this painting you sold at Sotheby’s, Mr. Constant?” the line of inquiry began. I was as calm as I could be under the circumstances. The police were doing their job and I happened to be the individual of their interest. I wished I weren’t. I wished it were all a dream, even a bad nightmare, not reality!

“I bought it in good faith at an auction near Brighton, Gorringes Auctioneers of Lewes,” I replied promptly. You always buy in good faith and auctions also sell in good faith.

“When did this happen and do you have a receipt for that?”

“Of course, I do. The painting is Stock Number 226 and the receipt is here in my records.” Satisfied with the information and evidence I gave them the officers left apologising for the inconvenience. I breathed a sigh of relief although I was still shaken by the experience.

I suspected how things would move forward from that point. I asked Sotheby’s for advice, and soon enough I knew the procedure of reversing the sale. That was another first that cost me a pretty penny. The Somerscales painting was stolen. The vendor at Gorringes, I was told, was an individual who had no proof of ownership.

Having a receipt/invoice for whatever you buy is essential.

I returned to Sotheby’s the net proceeds of the sale, and in turn Gorringes promptly returned me the money I paid for the painting. Everything was in place within two weeks minus £2000, my profit. My finances looked like a devastated war zone. The bank was empty and by the end of 1990 I was in trouble and struggling to make the interest payments at the bank, the monthly mortgage payment and all the other expenses. This was the last thing I expected six months earlier, but when things go wrong they do go wrong in twos and threes.

I lost money with the Somerscales painting. I lost money in the fake painting. In the blink of an eye I was in serious trouble. The multiplicity of wrong investments, unlucky events and recessionary pressures sent me to despair and depression. Was I going down as quickly as I had climbed up the art ladder or was there a way to survive?

THE FIGHTER IN ME WAS NEVER GOING TO GIVE IN!!

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