After my first message concerning a the “estate auction in New York“ (see link below), I received some bad comments in my email and decided to do a Rant called I owe you an apology but I am still receiving plenty of interesting comments that you can read below. If you want to comment yourself please do so below this page. If you end comments by email, and don’t want them published let me know.
Alan let me know that many of the people from my readership mis- understood that for online buyers, we will take an offer. And if they are highest, then Alan will pack it up and have it shipped out to them. His concern for international offers is the cost of shipping could get close to the offer made on the piece.
Dear David . . . I cant believe people would complain about the presentation It was obvious when checking the photos that it was a unique situation . …..They deserve to pay “Christies” prices I live in new zealand where we get pieces mainly at small auction houses from private “old family” sources though lately one of the bigger auctioneers has been importing pieces from Merton Simpson of N.Y.which is kind of interesting and way more expensive than our occaisional finds….I wish I could attend the sale over there with my flashlight and gloves ! ! Thank you for your emails and information It is greatly appreciated Cheers, Will Just
I actually do agree with you in the way of finding nice pieces for small prices. Especially in France, and perhaps even more in Belgium, two countries that have a very long history in and with Africa (I shall only talk about Africa, that I know better). As you explain, it’s still possible to meet one or some authentic masks or statues between a whole lot of “junks”, for example in a flea market where so many sellers are.
Artistical productions in Africa are as rich, as various, as numerous as ethnical groups. Someone like you, real professional, can differentiate, and will recognise the good pieces, acquire beautiful authentic ones for a very low price ; but that’s not given to anybody. And that’s your job, isn’t it ?
For who love african art, or any (called) primitive, aboriginal art, and them artistical expressions, first is to learn what they mean, the ethnical groups they are issued from, tribes, and rites they express through them ; then this person will be able to recognise a very spécial piece. And, as you say dear David, no matter if it’s in a gallery, in a garage, or in a street inside a flea market.
A very few, ideally, have or have had approach this enormous knowledge of african continent and people, each différent kind of expression, rite, and art working with it. In other words, impossible, even in a life of ethnologist or anthropologist. Thinking of Jean LAUDE saying : “That is the danger of imaginary museums: they dull our ability to grasp the distinctive features of an art, they reduce all the arts of all countries and all time to a few common denominators but misleading: the sense of each of them, that is to say not only its meaning but also the set of values ??that it polarizes drowns in an undifferentiated mass, in a shimmering purely retinal effects.”
So people prefer to buy for a higher price in galleries where, they think, they will get all waranties. In a way, that’s true, and higher prices and certifications of origin will give them the assurance of having made a good acquisition. In fact, lot of pieces, coming from collections (even the most famous, remember : of course you know some examples), or sold in auctions, should never have been assessed at those prices. In fact, what’s important for a piece get a better value ? Its history. Who brought it from Africa, to which collector she belonged, and so on… So, sometimes, sellers build an history to a piece for get the value they hope deal it. Introducing an unknown piece in the sale between différent others famous, or coming from famous collections. It gives it an history, a repectability.
I mean, all this is business, business of art ; time changes, interest for an artist, or for a kind of art, changes also ; like fashion. There’s a time when everything, and no matter what it is, can be sold. And a time where people get mistrustfull, even suspicious ; and then, only very special pieces may stay on the artmarket.
To all those who just want to acquire some because it’s in the air of time, come in the most famous galleries ; most of them will be delighted to welcome you. One thing people would never forget, the first value of an artistical work is the affective interest you will give to it.
Dear David - - I do want to thank you for sending out the email blast for the NY estate. I immediately saw the same “junk” as everyone else did – the state of the place – etc. It would automaticallyturn-off a lot of people, who, as you well know already (as stated in your followup) that most people are not real hunters. They are after all the typical majority - so one should not be too surprised when you get this vocal stream of comments against it. What they should probably not be called is SNOBS either. I do not think most reactions have anything to do with snobbery, but they were simply being outspoken and honest about what they saw from the photos – they were probably wondering – why on earth is David sending us this? I thought he had a better eye, etc... On the other hand - I did, and I am sure there are others, who appreciated that you put this sale out there, knowing its potential, so there was no need for us to respond. I knew, when I saw the kachina dolls, that probably there were things hidden within the trove that could be discovered. I was not appalled, but intrigued (especially since I am in the area), and knew whoever took the challenge would probably find something there. So please do not stop letting us know about these things. If I might be sold bold (I can’t help it – I am a New Yorker) - - what I might suggest – as you probably now already know – would be, in the future, to be certain to preface a sale like this – with statements that challenge those you are trying to reach & immediately let others know the score – such as “Beware - this estate sale is not for the timid – to find the diamond in the rough – you have to search out amongst the multitudes, this requires patience, and expect to get a little dirty” - This way you have covered yourself and your own reputation. I will make one other suggestion – and that would have been not to show these comments to the seller - - he was deeply hurt as was evident by his comments and lashing out calling them “snobs” –of course he would not be able to handle these very direct and brutal comments – he loved his father and would take this personally. My guess is that these people wrote these comments had intended them for you, and not written them for the seller to read, or they would have thought twice about HOW they said things. You could have easily handled it in the way that you have now – by letting people know your own travails in finding the diamonds, given all a proper tongue-lashing, and then the seller would have not needed to get involved and hurt. Whoever shows up, shows up after all. At any rate, David – You are obviously a good, and kind-hearted person amongst this crazy world that is tribal art fanatics. Thank you for everything you do, it IS appreciated. Best, Mary Krueger CARMONA DESIGN 25O FIFTH AVENUE . SUITE 5O3 NEW YORK CITY 1OOO1 STUDIO 212.414.84OO MOBILE 917.7O1.67O9