Sometimes it is all about the adventure of discovery.
I have often thought of starting a new recovery group called AAA (Art Addicts Anonymous). Few things are more addictive than falling in love with a piece of artwork and knowing it is a “one of a kind”.
I thought I would share a wonderful story that took place a few years ago.
I was introduced to a wonderful elderly woman by a friend. She had an amazing life story that would take 10 blog posts to cover but let’s just say that she was well connected in her earlier days to the magnets of Business, Film, and Politics. Unfortunately, her later years fell upon harder times and she needed to sell her art collection. I purchased several paintings from her including a very massive European landscape painting that was in serious disrepair. The Gesso frame was cracked and broken in several places as well as a bad attempt to paint the guilded frame, the painting must have hung in a smoke filled room for several decades, and someone had splattered housepaint on it when they painted a room. There was no signature on the painting we could find at the time and she did not know who the artist was.
Nonetheless, this painting had a siren song it was singing to me that I could not pry myself from. I began a campaign to investigate to see if I could learn more about it. The only clue that I had was that it had once belonged to Count Alexander Buxhoveden of Imperial Russia (Made some sense as the painting was massive and had huge brackets on the back to hang from some sort of masonry). Months passed and I had not made much progress until I took it to someone who had a huge scanner and the raking light exposed a raised signature (could not see it through the dirt). Sorenson 1844
Prior to this we had many guesses as to the artist (some would have been an awesome find had they been correct!) but Jacobus Sorenson was not one of them. His obvious talent and place in history was cut short due to his death in 1845. I had a good friend Melville Holmes do a complete restoration of this wonderful work and we documented everything. As you can see from the picture below he did a wonderful job.
As an Art Dealer (my wife says I am more collector than Dealer) I have to occasionally sell what I buy or I will run out of money. This painting was way too large to hang in our house and I did not want to relegate it to my warehouse so we put it up for auction at Bonhams in New York.
The painting sold and after the expense of purchase and restoration we made a decent but not excessive profit. I miss owning the piece but the memory and experience of the adventure was worth every hour put into it.
I would do it again in a heartbeat.