In the auction world, Christie’s is a name synonymous with buyers and sellers of extraordinary art, and exquisite luxury items such as watches, wine, high jewellery, and prized handbags. Founded in 1766, Christie’s has grown into a global presence in 46 countries, with an impressive 20-year history here in
Bangkok. The current President of Christie’s Asia Pacific is French-born Francis Belin, who was in Thailand recently overseeing an advanced viewing event for a future Hong Kong auction, as well as a special charity art auction and dinner benefitting the Fai- Fah Foundation. Both prestigious events were being held at the glamourous Waldorf Astoria Bangkok hotel. In a tête-à-tête with Francis Belin, he shares his views on the current trends in luxury auctions, as well as a few of the so-called “first time fails” auction rookies often make.
They go beyond [their maximum target price]. For exceptional objects you might decide to go beyond, and you might have a good reason to, but you still overpay.
2. Mistaken Purchases
They buy objects or paintings they think will fit their collection in the long run but, for whatever reason, it ends up not being right. That’s why the whole preparation process is so important. These are expensive objects that you cannot just resell the next day. You may have to wait five to 10 years if you don’t want to sell it at a loss.
3. Not Understanding Conservation
Not knowing what to do with what you bought so that it retains its value. That includes how to store it, where to store it, how to handle it, how to get it from A to B, and so on. A lot of these objects are very fragile, and easy to damage.
4. Not Doing Your Research
They have looked at an object, but not sufficiently in detail. Understanding what drives the price of an object is really important. What is the condition of the work? Is it rare? Has it been exhibited recently? Has it been restored, or is it in perfect condition? These are all drivers of value. For instance, you buy a vintage watch and the dial is not original, or you buy an expensive piece of collectible furniture and you find one of the legs has been changed. It has a massive impact on the value. These are things that as a collector you need to take time to understand.
5. Not Knowing the Full Cost
Buyers need to understand what is the “full” cost. We need to make some commission at some point, so there’s a ‘buyer’s premium’ which is calculated based on the sale price. To collect the item, you usually have to ship it, and that’s not something we pay for. And if you collect it in New York, for instance, you might be asked to pay city taxes there. Then there’s the cost of getting it properly installed into your home. We provide advice concerning all this, but overall it’s important to be aware that the hammer price is not the final price.