The upside of selling a personal collection
It is history and personality that BRING auction lots their value. From prints to jewellery, cars to wine, it is the story behind the piece that connects with buyers. This summer’s Patek Philippe Watch Art Grand Exhibition showcased 400 timepieces at the Saatchi Gallery, attracting 42,500 visitors over 12 days. Collectors command a focal point and a continuity through their anthologies to provide an irresistible draw.
That is perhaps why single-owner collections tend to bring higher sell-through rates at auction, one of the most iconic examples being the sale of the Time Museum collection after the museum closed in 1999. Brought together by the museum’s founder, Seth G Atwood, the collection sold for a total of US$58,593,845 over five years. Collecting is not just a pastime for the stamp-loving hobbyist but a serious, lucrative business.
Looking through a person’s life’s work, you can see a story through the pieces they have bought. It is a fascinating view through the keyhole. A single-owner collection will be focused and curated. The items have been a part of an intriguing family.
In December, Bonhams will offer the first instalment of the sale of the largest known single-owner watch collection in Europe. It is the collection of one, unnamed European nobleman* who has, over his lifetime, built a collection of
Single-owner watch collections emerge on the auction market about once a year, and usually within another sale. It’s very rare that somebody is able to own a sale with only their pieces – and this collection will certainly command more than one auction.
Somewhat surprisingly, selling your life’s work is not as heart-wrenching as the idea might first appear.
One client decided to sell his watch collection because he knew his children had no interest in it, and he really enjoyed it. He got a catalogue of his life’s possessions – a legacy of his passion. He was able to talk to people who were incredibly interested in his life’s work. He could finally share the heritage behind each item, knowing that the story of each piece would continue. It was the ultimate cathartic experience for him.