Invisible Secrets of “Collecting Beaux Arts” in 1000 words
Priceless recollection of An Italian Actor-Director about what really happens during the process of “Fine Art Awaits Its Keeper”
“I hate that Basquiat, you?”
-Alberto Mugrabi- (to Larry Gagosian discussing joint purchases at Sotheby’s auction)
It all started with one Monet.
My adventures in Art started with a simple request to buy a painting by the most consistent and prolific French impressionist from one good friend. My journey would take me on a rapid learning curve, and at the end make my life more intense, more abundant, and purposeful.
Discretion is important. Many buyers and sellers want to remain private. So, here, I cannot talk about specific deals only share some lessons learned along the way.
Alongside my television and film career, I got licensed to work in real estate and real estate financing while living in California. I loved it. Later I relocated to Turin, which is only a short distance from Monte Carlo. A friend of mine who works in real estate in Monaco mentioned he was working with a client who was looking for a Monet to buy for a client. At the same time, another friend of mine told me he knew of someone who had a Monet for sale.
My instant thoughts were: “I can connect these dots. I will put buyer and seller together, and get a deal done just as I have been doing in real estate for many years.”
After the successful matchmaking of uniting the Monet composition with the keen buyer, several more transactions followed: a Picasso, a Gauguin, and a Warhol. I started to cherish every second of this creative exchange because each painting is a mystery and a significant expression of the artist to influence cultures and create unique value.
The lesson I learned very quickly was that I was in the middle of this captivating transaction chain with both the buyer and the seller being two steps away on opposing sides. The buyer wants to know more about the work, and the seller wants to know more about the buyer’s proof of funds and real interest. Have you heard the term “Joker Broker”? After some experience, I began to appreciate this phrase fully. I learned very quickly to avoid the “Chain Gang.” Hence, I now work only closely with collectors or with paintings that I can verify personally.
The provenance or the chain of title is essential. The longer the story and the shorter the derivation, the bigger the problems. In the world of art, you must verify, consult with trusted experts. Collectors must research, verify, double verify their chosen artwork. I never offer a prospective buyer an artwork that I do not trust. I also encourage the professional guidance of an independent expert.
Once I was offered a painting by Basquiat with a very long story involving a lady and a sea captain, a questionable Caravaggio that took some detours in South America. A manipulated story that over-explained a missing piece of the history of the painting. It was unmistakably a fake one.
A further daunting challenge is to offer an authentic historical canvas to a buyer that is new to the market. Artwork, which is being provided discreetly start to make the rounds on the market after some time. A dealer once told me a story from the 1960s of giving a painting to a broker in the morning. The same day, in the afternoon, another broker arrived at his shop offering the very same picture for sale.
Why is art so valuable? Why does a piece sell for millions of euros, dollars, and pounds? Art is part of a lengthy discussion as human existence. Moreover, many adored artists, writers, and composers achieved immense recognition with identified monetary value.
When more than one person wants a significant painting for its value, the price rises. Art can be volatile, but there are blue-chip pieces that tend to retain value and grow as an investment of passion. It is a yearning of the collector that makes the field so valued and exciting.
I think, however, that collecting must be art itself. It is being as obsessed as the artists were, of continuing their discussion. What does it mean, what is its value?
I know personally that my adventures in the art trade of done things for me. They have invigorated my soul, excited my sensibilities in aesthetics and color, made me a witness to the ongoing creative discussion.
Reds. The color fields of Rothko with deep feelings of tragedy or sunshine layered beneath. The waterlilies of Monet, changing and delicate within the spackled and vibrant aqua blue and dappled with the brush of impressionism. The cubist angles of Picasso, letting us see many sides at the same time. The hallucinogenic and hypnotic visions of Van Gogh, or just his use of a mint green background in a portrait of his mother. Francis Bacon with the beauty and tragedy of what seems to be at first look horrifying distorted figures. The Pop factory and social statements of Warhol. The timeless value from an Old Master. I can stand in front of one of these paintings for an hour and let it inside my heart and soul.
I collect, and I paint, and often when I go to see a piece I will stand in front in witness, and let the work speak to me. “To me, art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk.”- Mark Rothko
Daniel McVicar is actor-director and artist based in Los Angeles and Turin Italy, discreetly connects friends and collectors with Investments of Passion, Fine Art, and Automobiles. Instagram @danielmcvicar