The 1990s Were Tough Years for All Businesses in UK
The euphoria of any period of time is always followed by lean times and lean years. That is virtually a rule but more so in art in the years 19802 and then 1990s.
As my Blog narrates the events oif the 1980s, art was on the move in a big way and until one major event stopped us all in its tracks. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and all the issues and problems following that event. Forgetting all the other issues, I refer only to the effect that event had on art and dealing in art.
Grab the opportunities on the Downturn!!
How did I escape the recession of 1990s with so much stock and gearing?
Read my new entries in the Blog over the next few days!
14th August 2015
New Tactics and the Greek Market to the Rescue
The years 1990-91 were the years that determined the fate of many businesses. Following the investment mistakes of 1990, the Gulf Wars, the financial meltdown and the collapse of the art market I found myself in the middle of the storm desperate for a plank to clutch onto in an effort to remain afloat. It became a struggle to service loans, overdrafts and pay a huge mortgage too. How did I end up in this position after being a nearly infallible investor in the 1980s?
Only a miracle could save the sinking boat! So it was back to supply teaching on a regular basis to make a living and support the family and art business. I had done that in the 1980s – teach and trade at the same time. Why not? An optimist always hopes and hope was my only salvation. Wars and calamities present investment opportunities, but where was the cash, since I was over invested already? Never one to dismiss future opportunities, I doggedly dug in with very little to spare and relied more and more on the emerging Greek market.
Make your own luck – Queen Anne-Marie of Greece
14th November 1990, Christie’s South Kensington
There is absolute honesty and truthfulness throughout this story. I have narrated with details events that happened worldwide with dates and figures that can easily be checked for accuracy and veracity. I have always maintained that luck made things possible for me, regardless of all the hard work, knowledge and experience gained over the years. It is impossible to accept that events happened as they did just because I worked hard for them to happen. Something else was at play and it is still in play, and that I must call LUCK!
Luck, I believe, has played a significant role in my life ever since childhood, but I also believe that I made my own luck too. I worked hard, I knew how and what to do and was there at the right place and time to take advantage of events and grab the opportunities.
November 1990 was upon us and it was unusual for me to sit quiet for six months and not make any new investments. I had sold a couple of Greek paintings that were insignificant but still provided me with a few pounds to work with. The sale at Christie’s South Kensington on 14th November 1990 was run of the mill with nothing much to attract attention at first. However, even in the worst sales I always managed to target something and home in on it. This I did with the Constantine Kluge, ‘View Of Venice’ – a good investment at £445. It made sense for a quick sale in New York and in May 1991 it sold there for exactly £1055, thus starting a new strategy.
· Invest in less expensive art in London and sell in New York where the market was stronger.
I hoped that this small change in investment policy would have immediate significant consequences on my finances and my life. Change was compulsory. The challenge for me was to shape the direction of that change in such a way that the business was rescued without risk to the family’s welfare and wellbeing.
Ingrald – Lund
(Danish or Scandinavian, [20th century] Unknown yet and no auction records of sales)
The impressive painting signed Ingrald-Lund was estimated to sell below one hundred pounds, a blessing, if I managed to buy it in the low hundreds. That fortunately happened in the absence of any buyers in the sale! The unfortunate events in the Gulf and the huge losses on the stock exchanges allowed me to buy that painting below fifty pounds. A real bargain!
What did I buy with just a few pounds?
· A magnificent garden scene of a mother and child
· An oil painting on canvas measuring 98cm x 118cm painted circa 1945
· A frame worth two hundred pounds at the time
Did I invest in a treasure that cost next to nothing or was I on a dream trip? I had time, I had the ability and knowledge to search, research, dig and re-dig in order to get to significant information about the painting and the persons in the picture. The Ingrald-Lund painting oozed quality and class. Something in the sale, on the canvas, in the catalogue spoke of royalty and soon enough I uncovered the family, the mother and sweet child in the painting.
It was Queen Ingrid of Denmark and her daughter Anne-Marie, the princess who would marry King Constantine of Greece and become the Queen of Greece in 1964.
Yes, it was a miraculous discovery and an unexpected final result to my research. I had invested in a painting that I liked enormously and valued highly, but I never imagined I would be buying the best subject I could ever have imagined, the wife of King Constantine of Greece, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece.
In May 1992 I exhibited the painting in a major, selling exhibition in London. King Constantine loved the painting and gave me significant information on its history. Meeting the King in his office in London that month was a pleasure and honour. I liked the man. I found him warm and sympathetic and a human being I empathized with.
“Yes, this is my wife at the age of two,” he said. “She is with my mother-in-law Queen Ingrid at the palace in Denmark. I would like to buy the painting if I may…”
Fortunately for me, other matters stopped the king from purchasing the painting. I was not in a hurry to sell and the painting was kept for my collection. I treasure it and love it. Such images of royal motherly love are very rare and unique and I consider it a valuable, monumental document of Royal European History.
Was that lucky or did I make my luck?
More bargain stories to follow making it possible to survive until better times arrived!!