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Never Late to Unearth The Sleeper at Auction- Bonhams Oxford 16th February


16-17th February Diary Entry

My Blog Tomorrow promises a day of excitement, perhaps success in art investment or failure to do so, because others pushed me out of contention. However, I will be happy in failure as I did try and failed. Should I succeed however, I will be over the moon.

London wakes up under moody, cloudy skies that look menacingly darker and darker. Will it rain? Will it spoil the driving to Oxford, England the town/city of Oxford University? Shall I dare to go out in the car? Shall I drive to Oxford to see Bonhams’ sale of the 17th and 18th February? There are a few items that interest me but I am not crazy about them. Dilly dallying in situations like these is the recipe for disaster and loss of opportunities grand.

No procrastination; it is not raining anyway and I have no excuse to be lazy sitting in front of the computer punching away my thoughts and ideas. A bottle of water for the journey, petrol in the car and off I am to view the sale accompanied by my partner/wife.

Quiet, very quiet at about 11.00 am. Why is that so? What is happening? In no time I am on the M 40 leading to Oxford, the city of learning but in my case today, the city of bargains and the chase of a couple of sleepers, hopefully! Traffic moves relatively quickly but the skies above get really dark and within twenty minutes drops start falling slowly. Gradually the drops become rain and then it pours and pours to my dismay and disappointment. Bother! I hate this!! Driving in the rain, being attacked by rain and spray!! Real bother!!

Drive man!! Drive slowly, please my wife begs. Careful here, careful there. Now, you missed the turn shouts my wife. What turn? I remember the way, do not tell me anything. I have such a bad memory these days but on this occasion I have kept the details of getting to Bonhams Oxford in the memory bank. It’s all turning right around Oxford. I remember!! Do not give me any instructions. The rain attacks the window shield, the wipers struggle to fend off the rain but I am not stopping nor slowing down. Slow screams my wife!! I am doing only 40 mph! Please be quiet!!

Right turn one and I am on the Ring Road of Oxford. Second turn right and then another one and I am not far now. I know where I am heading. Straight ahead and the newly built saleroom of Bonhams will welcome us. Patience is a virtue and that I must exercise.

Rain is hammering the car non stop. There, the sign Bonhams can be seen high up, even though not bright in the rain today!!

Be back in the morning for the best part of this!!

8.45am 17th Febraury 2015

Good morning to the whole world and to all my readers wherever they might be. London is smiling early morning today. Bright blue skies, sun shining and what a contrast to yesterday. What is this English weather doing to all of us poor souls in this country. Well, it mumbles, take it or leave it!! No choice really!!

I am just wondering how the day will pan out and how I will do at auction today. Will I be allowed to invest wisely and boast about it or will as normal come out of the bidding battles empty handed? Auctions are just like the wind blowing favourably or against you. Hope they are behind me pushing me forward but… No worries and No lamenattions really. Actually and seriously, NO boasting either. It is just small investments to keep me busy!!

I will be back in a few hours narrating the events as they occur in an auction and as I actively bid to buy something I saw and I liked. It is not the end of the world if I do not buy and it will not be the masterpiece in our world if I manage to buy it.

The chaos of the saleroom at Bonhams Oxford can be excused. Too many lots in one sale and not enough room to put them on for viewing, a good viewing. Paintings on the floor, paintings on the walls all over. Furniture to thwatd all best intentions not to be angry and frustrated. Indeed not good for anybody including Bonhmas’ employees, I would think. However, auctions are to generate reveneu first and foremost!!

Portraits and big copies of paintings are all line up against the walls. Some good, most atrocious. Smaller ones on the walls. The Rappini pair is small but of high quality. It was one of the reasons to visit Bonhams. Seeing in flesh makes it easier to judge and bid accordingly. I look at the pair for a few minutes. They are precise, they are fresh, they are high quality and they merit doubble the estimate at least. Buy is the verdict and my earlier advice to have them as bargains was good.

Where are the other ones I marked out. Just over on the same wall near the Rappinis but higher up is the Acropolis and Stylea of Olympian Zeus image. Great image, superb frame and quality very good in spite of it being catalogued as Follower of Fred. Goodall. Follower means a later copy of the same painting by Frederick Goodall.

I loved the painting and I felt it fitted greatly in the collection in spite its not being attributed to any artist.

Lot 312, Follower of Goodall

The Acropolis and Stylea of Olympian Zeus oil was not big but it was very good quality. My hope in securing it rested on the idea that at 1000 pounds, I should be able to be a player in the bidding. Hope is great attriburte but something more is required on lucky days. LUCK!!

The bidding starts at £500 and immediately I know it will be an impossible task to buy the painting which to my dismay sells for 1200 plus about 350 pounds commissions etc. At 1550 pounds the painting went far beyond my top bidding sum. I will sleep on the disappointment and get ready for another day and another bargain. I am not one to fold arms and say I had enough.

Happy, very happy about the two lots I travelled for 11/2 hours to see in rain, in pouring rain, I moved to the next room. The noise is disturbing. What is it? Knives, forks, spoons rattle in one corner. It’s the silver hunters. Out in force with their microscopes, they are looking for treasure and why not? Furntiture all over, w/colours on walls and tables and there hanging timidly the Scarvelli watercolours, which I thought were weak on seeing on the net. Yes, they were rather week but at 500 estimate, they made sense to buy. They were double the size of a small Scarvelli I sold in about 2000 at Bonhams London for something like 1500 pounds. Those were the days of high prices for Greek art.

Do you know what internet outrage? Have you ever felt frustrated to the point of breaking the machine in front of you or screaming at people who are supposedly trying to assist you but they fail. Thus Bonhams bidding section failed me, frustrated me and I am fuming here, in front of the screen of my computer. Email wrong, password wrong. This is wrong, that is wrong. What the hell is going on Bonhams and electronics?

Yes, new password sent, new email set, every stupid New is set and yet, this idiot, me cannot log on to bid. Yes, I am sitting pathetically suffering the coldness, the inhumanity of electronics, internet and computers. I just look at the screen, I follow the sale but I cannot enjoy the event as I cannot bid on line. Thus my first lot, the Rappini pair is gone and it sold for £2000, hammer bid plus 27.5% commissions and VAT.

My advice to bid on this lot at 500-700 pounds was well founded but too many people spotted the lot and so the bidding was strong on the items, which I must admit looked very good and extremely high quality watercolours.

Gone the Oriental scenes but still a few more to come!! Hope and hope!!

Very disappointing to be unable to take part in the bidding but I would have failed to buy anyway. Thus I turn to the next lot, a pair of w/colours of orientalist subject by Scarvelli a Greek artist well known for his views of Egypt and Corfu. Very conservatively estimated, I felt they were worth at least double their estimate in spite of Greek economic tragedy. No luck here either but not that bad a result as my eyes were set on another Greek item that is much closer to my heart. I forget the heartaches of the two failures and look forward to the last lot to bid on.

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