Friday, October 17, 2008

Bonhams: "The session went as well it could ever have"

Souren Melikian has written about the sale of antiquities at Bonhams this week: "Antiquities reveal surprising strength at lower end of market", IHT, October 17, 2008. Melikian notes,
Bonhams is working hard to hold its ground in the middle and lower levels of the market by making itself as attractive as possible.
There is comment on the sale of Graham Geddes collection.
A terse notice in the catalogue, however flattering the tone, revealed that Graham Geddes was an Australian dealer who started in the 1960s. It did not specify that the objects consigned for sale were those that had remained unsold, but this is how any experienced market hand with the slightest inclination to cynicism would have read the said biographical information. In the current climate, disaster seemed bound to strike. Yet, it did not.

True, a number of objects remained unwanted. In the morning, 11 of the first 30 pieces that came up failed to sell, by my count. But most of these would be unsaleable under pretty much any circumstances.
The report continues:
That left a big question mark hovering over the fate of "The Geddes Collection" due to appear in the afternoon. If the market was ever so slightly reticent, objects that had long remained in the dealer's stock despite widespread exposure - several had been included in museum shows in Australia - were in danger of being spurned en masse. This did not happen. The session went as well it could ever have, given what was on offer.
What is interesting about this report, perhaps even breathtaking in the omission, is the lack of any mention that pieces had to be withdrawn from the sales due to action taken by the Italian Government.

Was Melikian unaware of the controversial nature of these sales?

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