Charm Not Without Challenge

One of the great pleasures of being part of a full-service auction house, one that doesn’t cherry pick but one that commits to managing the entire gamut of an estate or collection, is that you handle both the interesting and the beautiful, across the entire price spectrum.
In short, the auction experience for us is a comprehensive one; from the tiny Victorian silver pill box that might sell for a hundred dollars through to a rare, undiscovered painting by a female artist that sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars! The flip-side is that managing three tiers of auctions, and over 100,000 Lots per annum, is not without its challenges and the critical one is time – that often fleeting element that does not always enable the luxury of extended deliberation, consultation or pause. Imagine the art connoisseur, index finger poised carefully on chin in a contemplative manner and you will get the picture of what a weekly auction specialist very rarely has the time to indulge in. Just such an intersection of charm and challenge presents every week when we assemble our weekly Art Salon, our third tier of art auctions that make a market for modestly priced art and enable a fascinating entry point for old and new collectors alike. Every week, an array of artists, mediums, styles and sizes are presented and in a very short timeframe we conduct physical and online inspections before the works are hung for public display and auction. This physical display and online promotion can, very occasionally, act as a final filter that in very rare instances identify something we simply were unable to detect or extract, from either the seller or the work itself. The challenge at this point is balancing the competing interests of the vendor (the seller), the party advising us of the issue and indeed the public interest in acquiring legitimate works of art. When we receive supporting information that moves public advice from mere hearsay to something more meaningful, we always withdraw the work from auction and consult with all parties concerned. When the whiff of fake, forgery or copy finds its way to the journalist it is only natural that the rush will be on for a sensational, first to press article, but what can become lost in the drama is that the very act of bringing works of art, or anything for that matter, to public viewing is that this can reveal what is occasionally very difficult to reveal and in the process provides a very transparent final filter before the work ultimately changes hands at auction. A final filter that should reassure all of us and remind us that open market places are much safer than discreet ones.

Managing Director & Head of Private Collections

May 2019