October 24, 2004
ANTIQUES AND COLLECTIBLES NEWSLETTER #253
Okay, now I've seen it all. He Who Is The Light Of My Life and I were watching TV this morning and a commercial
for eBay came on. It was filled with images of people doing the right thing - helping each other, picking up litter on
the street - you know - acts of civic kindness. I kept saying, "Who's commerical is this, Artie?" Then came the tag
line: something like "We started with the belief that all people are good, and you proved us right. Ebay." I almost
choked on my bottle of Poland Spring! If you've ever been part of a group trying to make a business deal with
eBay, you know they're anything but a group of humanitarians. I have witnessed more than one business entity go
bust because eBay would only make a deal where they got an enormous sum - up front, and because eBay will not
promote anyone but itself. No helping hands there. So, great trading place? Yes! Warm, fuzzy, love den for all
people? Snort! No way.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF STOP MAKING FUN OF GREAT GRAMPA'S JUNK UP IN THE ATTIC
A family in Spain just discovered that the ratty old painted piece of wood in an envelope sitting around the apartment is actually a $500,000 painting by El Greco. The oil-on-board portable altar piece depicting The Baptism of Christ was discovered when the family took it to a routine appraisal day at Christie's, reports BBC News. The painting's been in the family since the mid-19th century. It was painted by El Greco some time between 1567 and 1570, when the painter was in Venice. The owner, who lives in a small apartment, repsonded to a newspaper ad offering appraisals at Christie's and took it in. Christies will auction the painting on December 8. I guess there's a larger apartment in someone's future! All this comes on the heels of the discovery of another lost El Greco, found in a small church in Poland. That painting, Ecstacy of St. Francis, was actually discovered in 1964 during a routine check of historical artifacts. It has never been exhibited before now because church authorities wanted to hide it from Communist authorities.
STICKY AUCTION SITUATION DEPARTMENT
Matthew Cuellar of Wichita, Kansas has a good eye, and a quick wit, and he is now in a standoff with the City of Wichita. It seems the city mistakenly auctioned Janes Rosati's 1981 four-piece sculpture, "Upright Form V" and Mr. Cuellar bought two parts of it for $40. Then he discovered two more pieces at the auction, bid $230 and won them. By the time he went to pay for those, the city had discovered its mistake, and refused to take his check or give him the additional pieces. Wichita wants Cuellar to return the first two pieces, which he says he won fair and square. Mr. Cuellar did his research, found out the sculpture is worth between $7,000 and $30,000, and wants the city to give him one third of the sculpture's value for the return of the pieces. The citizens of Wichita have weighed in on both sides of the issue. Some feel Cuellar is extorting money from the city. Some feel that it was the city's mistake, they put the pieces up for sale, he won them, and he has the right to ask for whatever he deems appropriate. I'm with them. That's the auction biz, Baby. The customers no doubt received a long list of terms of the auction. Now the city of Wichita has to abide by those terms, too. The city will not negotiate with Cuellar, and they say they'll simply put the remaining pieces on a shelf and leave them there. Cuellar has gone to the county's District Attorney because he wants the remainig pieces, which he says are rightfully his as well. It will be interesting to see what happens in this fight against City Hall.
ART GALLERIES TAKE WARNING - KEEP YOUR FLOORS SWEPT CLEAN!
An Argentine man who was sentenced to community service for urinating on the steps of the MALBA museum in Buenos Aires has had his conviction overturned on appeal. The man, Juliano Perez Dorrego, who happens to be an attorney, appealed on the grounds that it was impossible to dirty the stepa of the mueum, since they were already dirty form the thousands of people who walk on them. "One cannot dirty the dirt", he said after he won his appeal. Come to think of it, that applies to some lawyers too.
Before I go, Accumulators, I want to tell you about a new book, one that will be a big help if you're planning to do business on eBay. It's called, Buying and Selling Antiques and Collectibls On eBay, and it was written by Pamela Y. Wiggins, the Antiques Guide at About.com. The book is very informative and accurate. I know this because I have a close personal relationship with the technical editor of the book. Okay, I was the technical editor. But, it's still a great book. You can get it at Amazon.com, or your local bookseller. Have a great week, Accumulators. We're off to see our dear friends, the Sussmans. Happy hunting!
© 2004 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #253
U.S. Library of Congress
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