1 How did you get your start?
I was on the Sotheby’s course in 1976-77, confirming that I wanted to be in the ‘old picture game’. Having always thought I would be an auctioneer, I found myself working for the British picture dealership Pawsey and Payne in St James’s. I was in business on my own two years later.
2 What is attracting buyers at the moment?
At our end of the business, where we sell pictures from £5000-150,000, people are primarily looking for something they like, that will look fine on their walls, and that they hope will be something of an investment.
3 How has that changed over time?
Demand changes in terms of subject matter. Few grandsons buy what their grandfathers bought.
When I started, the Victorian landscape was booming and the Victorian watercolour made extraordinary strides in the 1980s. That moved to British Impressionists and Mod Brits. By the late 90s the baton passed again to the post-war and contemporary.
4 What is one change you would love to make to the trade?
The public recording of sale results on the internet seems grossly unfair to any buyer at auction. Pictures, easily looked up by artist or title, suffer most. This impediment to re-sale has meant dealers having to stay away from these sales, with a consequent drop in the value of the pictures. It would be a long legal haul to alter this but it could be done.
5 What is your holy grail – an object you would love to find?
I’ve always had a generalist’s eye. That said, the best of Burne-Jones never fails to make me dream and Joseph Wright’s turning of the world of the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution into art remains mesmerising.
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