Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Questioning the wisdom of acquiring painted pottery"

One of the things that I was asked to do on Friday in the "Not praising, burying" workshop day at the Fitzwilliam Museum was to reflect on the impact of Artful Crafts. Our last chapter, "The Way Forward", reflected on the market. I read the following paragraph to the group as part of the discussion later in the day (p. 193):
We are reliably informed (by a former ancient art consultant) that one consequence of our thesis is that some North American collectors are now questioning the wisdom of acquiring painted pottery, since the field is so controversial (and nothing puts off collectors as much as controversy: they want their investments to be secure and not subject to the vagaries of scholarship). ... Any opposition to the view that Greek pottery did not possess an exalted position in antiquity should now be judged against the background of a market whose supporters are afraid of losing possible financial and material benefits.
It needs to be remembered that these words were published before the raid on the Geneva Freeport, and prior to the publication of Peter Watson's Sotheby's Inside Story. It anticipates the fallout from the Medici Conspiracy that has damaged the reputation of so many major North American museums (and some European and south-east Asian ones along the way).

It would be inappropriate to identify the ancient art consultant (as it appeared on the person's business card). But if that consultant had advised her / his clients that it would be wise not to invest in recently surfaced Greek figure-decorated pottery some of the problems could be avoided. Indeed some of those clients could be questioning the advice that they had been given.

I am hoping that some of these issues will be raised in the wider discussion on Thursday next week in the McDonald Institute, Cambridge. Readers of LM (and others!) who live within easy reach of Cambridge are more than welcome to attend.

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1 comment:

kyri said...

hi david,anyone who buys ancient art as an investment is a fool.the dealers favourite ploy is to talk up the investment potential of ancient art but just like contemporary art it is a phoney market that could implode at any one should buy anything they dont like and certainly not for investment reasons.i cant understand the mentality of people buying art and than locking it away in bank vaults.if i buy a greek vase i have to love it and be able to live with it for years and if by chance my children get back what i paid for it when i die than fine but as an investment,no way.whenever i have traded up or sold a piece at auction i have allways lost money.out of all the dealers i know only one has the same view as me when it comes to collecting.
"COLLECTING SHOULD BE SOMETHING YOU ENJOY,WE NEVER SELL ANYTHING AS AN INVESTMENT",richard lobel of coincraft,unfortunately %99 of other dealers talk of %10 returns per year.


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