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This is what keeps us going - the thrill of the hunt!  As dealers we are always dreaming of making that big discovery, the sleeper that will make a difference. It still happens, as evidenced by the story below. I have made a few through the years, but I’m still waiting for the “big one”.
We did make a nice discovery in an auction box lot last year, maybe not as spectacular as the one in the story, but it was pretty special for us.  While previewing a sale at a small auction house, Matt spotted an extremely important piece of Chinese export porcelain in a box lot.  The lot had been part of the residue from an excellent Boston area estate, the majority of which had gone to one of the big name auction houses. Here was this obscure five-figure piece, mixed in with common, low value porcelain. We knew we on the trail of a good one, now we just needed to bring it in.  Matt sat quietly in the audience at the sale, hoping nobody else had noticed this gem. When it came time to bid he was able to buy the box lot for under $300. The thrill was so intense that later, when he was wrapping up the lot to head home, his hands were still shaking.  We were lucky enough to ascertain the provenance, which was important to the discovery. It doesn’t happen often at auctions these days, they are so well covered, but with some diligence and knowledge mixed with a good dose of luck it is still possible and incredibly exciting. Keep an eye on those box lots!

Here is the related story from Antique and the Arts Online:

Box Lot Painting Discovery Brings $164,500 At Clarke’s

It was a "dream come true" for a local picker at Clarke Auctioneers this past Sunday, October 23, as a rare oil painting on panel by Maurice Prendergast became the star lot of the auction. The picker had dropped off the unassuming and dirty painting among the contents of a box lot at the auction house, according to gallery owner and auctioneer Ronan Clarke.

Nelia Moore, art specialist and auctioneer at Clarke's, "spied a beautifully executed but very dirty painting on panel of a woman in a veil. After dusting it off and studying the painting she spotted the Prendergast signature on the lower right of the panel," he said. The Impressionistic- style painting was executed while the artist was in Paris.

Estimated at $40/60,000, the painting opened for bidding at $20,000 and advanced rapidly between a dealer in the front row and a private buyer in the rear of the gallery. The action slowed as the painting hit $100,000, with the dealer taking his time between advances, while the private buyer continued to bid quickly, until it finally went her way, climbing to $164,500, including premium.

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