After my first message concerning a the “estate auction in New York“ (see link below), I received some bad comments in my email and decided to do a Rant  called I owe you an apology but I am still receiving plenty of interesting comments that you can read below. If you want to comment yourself please do so below this page. If you end comments by email, and don’t want them published let me know.

Alan let me know that many of the people from my readership mis- understood that for online buyers, we will take an offer. And if they are highest, then Alan will pack it up and have it shipped out to them. His concern for international offers is the cost of shipping could get close to the offer made on the piece.


Dear David . . . I cant believe people would complain about the presentation  It was obvious when checking the photos that it was a unique situation . …..They deserve to pay “Christies” prices  I live in new zealand where we   get pieces mainly at small auction houses from private “old family” sources though lately one of the bigger auctioneers has been importing pieces from Merton Simpson of N.Y.which is kind of interesting and way more expensive than our occaisional finds….I wish I could attend the sale over there with my flashlight and gloves ! ! Thank you for your emails and information     It is greatly appreciated    Cheers, Will Just

————————–Dear David,

I actually do agree with you in the way of finding nice pieces for small prices. Especially in France, and perhaps even more in Belgium, two countries that have a very long history in and with Africa (I shall only talk about Africa, that I know better). As you explain, it’s still possible to meet one or some authentic masks or statues between a whole lot of “junks”, for example in a flea market where so many sellers are.

Artistical productions in Africa are as rich, as various, as numerous as ethnical groups. Someone like you, real professional, can differentiate, and will recognise the good pieces, acquire beautiful authentic ones for a very low price ; but that’s not given to anybody. And that’s your job, isn’t it ?

For who love african art, or any (called) primitive, aboriginal art, and them artistical expressions, first is to learn what they mean, the ethnical groups they are issued from, tribes, and rites they express through them ; then this person will be able to recognise a very spécial piece. And, as you say dear David, no matter if it’s in a gallery, in a garage, or in a street inside a flea market.

A very few, ideally, have or have had approach this enormous knowledge of african continent and people, each différent kind of expression, rite, and art working with it. In other words, impossible, even in a life of ethnologist or anthropologist. Thinking of Jean LAUDE saying : “That is the danger of imaginary museums: they dull our ability to grasp the distinctive features of an art, they reduce all the arts of all countries and all time to a few common denominators but misleading: the sense of each of them, that is to say not only its meaning but also the set of values ??that it polarizes drowns in an undifferentiated mass, in a shimmering purely retinal effects.”

So people prefer to buy for a higher price in galleries where, they think, they will get all waranties. In a way, that’s true, and higher prices and certifications of origin will give them the assurance of having made a good acquisition. In fact, lot of pieces, coming from collections (even the most famous, remember : of course you know some examples), or sold in auctions, should never have been assessed at those prices. In fact, what’s important for a piece get a better value ? Its history. Who brought it from Africa, to which collector she belonged, and so on… So, sometimes, sellers build an history to a piece for get the value they hope deal it. Introducing an unknown piece in the sale between différent others famous, or coming from famous collections. It gives it an history, a repectability.

I mean, all this is business, business of art ; time changes, interest for an artist, or for a kind of art, changes also ; like fashion. There’s a time when everything, and no matter what it is, can be sold. And a time where people get mistrustfull, even suspicious ; and then, only very special pieces may stay on the artmarket.

To all those who just want to acquire some because it’s in the air of time, come in the most famous galleries ; most of them will be delighted to welcome you. One thing people would never forget, the first value of an artistical work is the affective interest you will give to it.

Sincerely your,-

Thierry Carton

“Surprise” New York collection
HI, David,
I am from Lincoln, Nebraska, and I must tell you that I was not at all offended by the pictures from the house of the deceased 91 year old gentleman.  He has some remarkable African pieces and probably some expensive and unique pieces of jewelry.  The WWII items will bring collectors from far and near and could bring lots of money.  As we age, we are not able to keep everything as neat and tidy as we once could and I see no need for you to apologize.  Please extend my feelings to his son, Alan, who felt he had to defend his dad.  This just points out to me that some people do not place much value on our seniors and I find that appalling!!!!  Most of us are going to be seniors and we all need to think about how we want to be treated.  Tolerance and acceptance of the wisdom and contributions this 91 year old gentleman made in his life and passed on to future generations need to be celebrated.
I wrote to you concerning the African artwork and antiques of Michael Opoku and you chatted with him a month or so ago.
Please let Alan know that he has every right to be a proud son and I apologize that some folks had the gall to make comments about what his parents collected over their lifetimes.
Best regards,
Mary K. Burns
Lincoln, NE  68516
I think you showed poor judgment in first promoting this sale and then in forwarding the negative feedback to the family in its time of loss.
Paul Kohn
Dear David - - I do want to thank you for sending out the email blast
for the NY estate.  I immediately saw the same “junk” as everyone else
did – the state of the place – etc.  It would automaticallyturn-off a
lot of people, who, as you well know already (as stated in your
followup) that most people are not real hunters.  They are after all
the typical majority - so one should  not be too surprised when you get
this vocal stream of comments against it.

What they should probably not be called is SNOBS either.  I do not
think most reactions have anything to do with snobbery, but they were
simply being outspoken and honest about what they saw from the photos –
they were probably wondering – why on earth is David sending us this?
I thought he had a better eye, etc...

On the other hand - I did, and I am sure there are others, who
appreciated that you put this sale out there, knowing its potential, so
there was no need for us to respond.  I knew, when I saw the kachina
dolls, that probably there were things hidden within the trove that
could be discovered.  I was not appalled, but intrigued (especially
since I am in the area), and knew whoever took the challenge would
probably find something there.  So please do not stop letting us know
about these things.

If I might be sold bold (I can’t help it – I am a New Yorker) - - what
I might suggest – as you probably now already know – would be, in the
future, to be certain to preface a sale like this – with statements
that challenge those you are trying to reach & immediately let others
know the score – such as  “Beware - this estate sale is not for the
timid – to find the diamond in the rough – you have to search out
amongst the multitudes, this requires patience, and expect to get a
little dirty”  - This way you have covered yourself and your own

I will make one other suggestion – and that would have been not to show
these comments to the seller - - he was deeply hurt as was evident by
his comments and lashing out calling them “snobs” –of course he would
not be able to handle these very direct and brutal comments – he loved
his father and would take this personally.  My guess is that these
people wrote these comments had intended them for you, and not written
them for the seller to read, or they would have thought twice about HOW
they said things.  You could have easily handled it in the way that you
have now – by letting people know your own travails in finding the
diamonds, given all a proper tongue-lashing, and then the seller would
have not needed to get involved and hurt.  Whoever shows up, shows up
after all.

At any rate, David – You are obviously a good, and kind-hearted person
amongst this crazy world that is tribal art fanatics.  Thank you for
everything you do, it IS appreciated.  Best, Mary Krueger

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