The Internet delivers first time out

Lucas Geralis

(Greek, [1875-1958] Painter of figurative, marine and still life paintings. Well regarded and collected. Auction sales range £1500- 8000)

15th April 2003, Bonhams, London 10th May 2004, Sotheby’s, London

The Lucas Geralis painting of flowers, estimated just a little more than I priced it, had been on the Internet since early 2002 and was begging to be bought. Bonhams were trying hard, but it refused to happen. Once and twice I sat it out and refrained from bidding. When it appeared for the third or fourth time at £500 I bought it with no competition. I was happy with the quality of the Geralis painting, the first of his I had ever bought. Its market value I estimated to be double the amount I had paid. The 2004 Olympics were upon us and I was expecting everything Greek to be in demand, including art.

I was mad about investing in Greek art, as it has become apparent already, but nothing compared to what was to happen in the following couple of years. Greek art continued improving at auction with a track record at the top of all the art markets. It had shown a 300% improvement since 2000 and there was plenty more in the tank, I forecast. My trades in Greek art showed comparable percentage profits and at times returns were close to 1000%. Investing more in Greek art was essential and made great business sense at the time. I could see at least doubling my money in the short term. Furthermore, Greek art spoke to me as a person, thus fulfilling the emotional need of art investment.

The Internet had become my best assistant and right hand by 2000. I could get to it quickly and travel the whole world in minutes looking for bargains in a million and one auctions. The downside was that it was also available to everyone else. So, where was my edge since so many millions could access the Internet like myself?

· In-depth knowledge and a hard-working ethos!

· All the tools of investing successfully were at an instant’s recall in my head and my home. I had all the resources required to make successful investments quickly, with little or no need for outside research.

· My expertise in Greek art was very good and more importantly up to date with prices achieved at auction in the last few years. That was the most significant part of my knowledge. If there was a case of unknown and interesting, I had the catalogues, the indexes, the encyclopedias and literature required to inform myself quickly and act accordingly.

December was here and the year was coming to an end. Taking a break that Saturday 14th December 2003, I surfed the sports pages to relax and forget the art addiction that had recently led to even more investments. But that is easier said than done! Looking at art was a form of relaxation for me and an intoxicating medium. From site to site I ended up on the website of ‘IEGOR’ in Montreal.

Oh brother, second time out the Internet excites!

Apostolos Geralis

(Greek, [1886-1983], Very successful figurative painter of peasant Greek women and men in their domestic chores. Auction price range £1500- 25,000)

16th December 2003, IEGOR Quebec, Canada – 10th May 2004, Sotheby’s London

How did I miss that paintings auction? My, my! It was supposed to be Christmas in a few days’ time, but for myself that was the time to hunt for a bargain, if there was one in Canada. Most people were getting into a festive mood, but I was still at work and looking for investment opportunities all done from home and all enjoyable. No time to waste. The sale was in twenty-four hours and I had just a few hours that Saturday to arrange bidding, if anything was of interest. The time in Montreal was about four in the afternoon.

One after the other the paintings were not for me. I was not disappointed, but then there had to be a Greek painting and a bargain somewhere. I felt it. I expected it. How was that? Instinct? Hope? Stupid expectation? Who knows what it was!

There! Once again, there was Geralis, this time the better-valued younger brother of Lucas, Apostolos Geralis! What a lovely painting of a peasant Greek woman at 3000 Canadian dollars, or about £1500. I liked the painting and loved the price. I estimated the painting to be worth well over £3000. I had to buy. That was my chance to buy a beautiful Apostolos Geralis and I was not going to miss it. First time once again! Excitement, thrill, wild thoughts of profits and riches! Greedy guts!

The arrangement to bid on the phone was set in motion immediately. No need to waste time, no research needed, no prices to be checked. I had everything in the memory bank.

Great expectations just before Christmas! Another bargain purchase, an unexpected Christmas present from Canada! Another bout of anxiety, worry and suspense! Was that my first purchase? Rather my thousandth one, but it felt like the first. Could I purchase another good Greek painting in the next twenty-four hours? Was I the only investor in Greek art? It was unbelievable. Either the whole world was asleep or I was daydreaming. Was I the only one digging for treasure or was I perhaps digging a financial grave by investing 80% of my money in Greek art? Which one was it? I was pretty sure at the time that it was treasure. I was one hundred percent sure of the rewards of investing in Greek art, but was I too full of myself and bullish?

Sunday night arrived so quickly that I had no time to worry or fret about bidding any more. Having splashed £25,000 on other purchases in October and November there was very little left to bid on the Geralis. Nevertheless, I hoped that not too many people had seen the painting and that the reserve would be the winning bid. The call from IEGOR could not have come earlier.

“Mr Constant,” the voice over the Atlantic, as clear as a bell, “two lots to the Geralis.”

Immediately the bidding started, I knew I was the only bidder and that the Geralis was mine. At £1500 the beautiful Apostolos Geralis was indeed a Christmas present from Canada. By the end of December the painting was hanging up on the wall at home and I was enjoying the art of an artist I had dreamed of buying for years. A peasant Greek lady busy with the chores of the house filled me with pride and joy. I deliberately stared and stared at the painting in admiration. I knew I had to cash it in soon and therefore I had to make the most of it while I could. It was a short-term investment, a moneymaking exercise, which hopefully would work in my favour and assist me in my plans for the Olympics.

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