Monday, June 28, 2010

Headed East

As my wife headed West the other morning, I went East that evening. My first stop on this tour was Paris where I went to a number of exhibitions of auctions and some I sat through. Aside from the usual suspects Christies and Sotheby’s, I visited Articurial and the amazing Hotel Drouot. Artcurial is an auction house in the Hôtel Marcel Dassault (built in 1844) and Drouot is a modern building built to house many auction rooms which are shared with many auctioneers who exhibit and auction their merchandise there. Many years ago they even sold washing machines at Drouot but these days it represents houses that have fine and decorative arts as well as jewelry and coins.

l do not always attend the actual sale but I try to get around to all the exhibitions so that I know what is available and if I will not be there to bid I can leave a bid with the house or a colleague. A French collector said to me at Drouot the less they profess to know, with little information published and no photograph the work of art will sell for the highest price. Of course, this is not always the case but the point he was making was in all these many pieces that are being sold everyone hopes, to make a discovery. Some times, it goes the other way and one does get a bargain, but that is the exception.

Not too far from Drouot at 69,rue St. Anne, in a courtyard, you will find two top dealers Eric Turquin for paintings and Galerie de Bayser (father and sons) for drawings. But they are not just dealers they are also ‘experts’ for a number of auction houses. This is a legal designation with responsibilities for the property sold through the auction house. Works of art reside with these dealers for some time as they research them but they cannot sell directly to the client. They can, however, show the works and give out many details of the research they have done before the work appears at auction. I visited both to see what the future held and in the case of the drawings they will come up right after I leave Paris. I left bids for five of them… who knows? So far this week I have not had much success in the auctions. But there were other works to consider from the galleries and there is another opportunity.

My next stop is Prague where I will be for the meeting of the International Confederation of art dealers consisting of 5000 dealers from about 20 countries. These meetings, which occur once a year, give an opportunity for discussions on the legal and financial issues that face the dealers over much of the globe. I look forward to reporting on it next week assuming I have internet access where ever I am.

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