Edit ModuleShow Tags

Remarkable Antique Finds

Blow the attic dust off that old relic



Go ahead, admit it. Sometimes you dream it could happen to you. Yes, of course, you understand full well Lady Luck is a fickle mistress, that good fortune is nothing to bank on. They won’t catch you at the casinos or waiting in line for a lottery ticket. Your preferred investment strategy is straightforward indexing and bonds with triple-A ratings.

Every once in a while, though, perhaps while flicking through channels, you pause a moment on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow. As Edgar and Connie from Damariscotta discover the strange old tuba they found in their uncle’s attic may have once been the property of John Philip Sousa and worth enough to pay their grandson’s college tuition, you recall your last visit to the attic and the wheels of your mind start to turn.

It does really happen, too. Paul Provost, senior vice president and director of estates, trusts and appraisals at the international auction house Christie’s, remembers the time someone came in with a painting found at a rummage sale they thought might be worth something. It turned out the painting was by Martin Johnson Heade, an early-American painter, and worth $882,500.

“From a realistic point of view, this sort of thing often gets a great deal of press and may get some people too excited,” Provost warns, noting that Christie’s gets hundreds of queries daily and he, in fact, doesn’t do appraisals himself. “Most people have a sense of the value of the items they have, and usually when they don’t, it’s because they think the item is worth more than it actually is. But sometimes you do hit the jackpot.”

The following is a selection of Gold Coast residents for whom that jackpot turned out to be more than the stuff of dreams.

I'd be surprisingly good for you
Simon Teakle didn’t know what he was in for when he flew a hemisphere away from his Old Greenwich home in the summer of 1997.

“The fax I got just said I would be meeting with a very secretive gentleman who lives outside Buenos Aires, to look at ‘a very interesting piece’ that he knows will be worth my while,” he recalls.

The unflappable Teakle didn’t bat an eye. His job then as head of Christie’s jewelry department required frequent travel to distant places, one reason he prefers working today at Betteridge Jewelers on Greenwich Avenue, a smaller locale with often-amazing stories of its own. (“I’m right now looking for a rare blue diamond for a customer, and one of the leading gem dealers in the world is after it as well. This is a very competitive market.”) But there was something especially unusual about this errand from the moment he met his mysterious contact. “He was in this room that had this big black table with nothing on it but a piece of white cloth,” Teakle remembers. “I knew immediately whatever was under that cloth was what I was there to see.”

Teakle radiates English charm, from his shoulder-length rock-star mane to his insistence on pronouncing the I in “mobile phone” to his delight in telling the story of his remarkable find in unrushed detail as he strokes his chin in Betteridge’s posh second-floor viewing room, festooned with bright salvers and Edwardian illustrations.

When he finally got a peek at the mysterious guest’s holdings, he saw a sapphire-and-diamond brooch by Van Cleef & Arpels, made with invisible settings to resemble an Argentine flag. Its owner said his father had acquired it years before at an auction, and that it had been designed especially for the legendary First Lady of Argentina, Eva Peron.

The mysterious contact figured on a cool quarter-million dollars for the piece. Teakle wasn’t sure. “In terms of raw, intrinsic value, that was way too much,” he says, noting that national flags are hardly typical evening wear. Still, Teakle knew it was an exciting piece with a unique history. Not wanting to hose the owner’s spirits down, he agreed to terms that seemed possible, even likely. But Teakle suggested they price the brooch more conservatively at auction as a way of drawing more bidders. The man agreed.

Then came the truly amazing part of the story. First, Teakle settled the always-delicate question of provenance; while leafing through a tome on Argentine estancias in a San Francisco bookstore, he discovered a photograph of Evita wearing the flag brooch. Then, while showing the piece in South America’s jet-set mecca, Punta del Este in Uruguay, Teakle made the acquaintance of an Argentine celebrity every bit as outsized as the brooch’s original owner: Susana Giménez, a variety-show hostess whose revolving romances have kept Buenos Aires gossip writers happily employed for three decades.

“She looks at the brooch and just bursts into tears,” Teakle says, still amazed at the spectacle as he replays it in his head. “She said, ‘This is an Argentine national treasure, and it’s my destiny to bring it back for the people.’ ”

So when it came time for the auction in New York City the following spring, there was Susana, camera crew at her side. Bidding started conservatively but quickly escalated as Susana worked her auction paddle and blonde mojo for the camera crew and a Manhattan audience totally won over by her theatricality. “Every time she raised the bid, the audience cheered,” Teakle says. “Then, when this other bidder who was on the phone raised the bid, they booed.”

Teakle was, of course, cheering for both of them. Finally, the man on the phone bid $992,500, at which point Susana fled the auction room in tears, camera crew in tow. Later she confessed her relief to Teakle. Meanwhile, somewhere in the United States, a woman found herself with a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary present that works out to about $40,000 for every year of matrimony.

“It was a combination of pure luck, chance and drama,” Teakle concludes. “It just shows you can never put a value on human emotion. After that, I got a number of calls from people saying they had jewelry owned by Eva Peron. But you can never re-create that. The time’s passed, and you move on.”

Sticker shock
John Reznikoff pulls the tarpaulin off the car he has parked in a Westport garage, revealing a bone-white 1963 Lincoln Continental. A few years ago, he bought it for $17,500 from the inventory of a defunct establishment in Florida called the Museum of National Tragedy; now he expects to sell it for one million dollars.

For the complete story, please see the November issue of Greenwich Magazine.

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

 

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Greenwich Agenda

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • The Best of 2014: Cecile Chong, David, Ruth Hiller, David Licata, Loanne Mattera, Jill Parisi, Kristen Thiele

    2014.11.08
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY I Dates: November 8 – December 22, 2014     Opening Reception: November 8, 6:30 – 8:00 PM Public Invited THE BEST OF 2014:  Cecile...

  • Flinn Gallery Art Opening

    2014.10.30
     @ Flinn Gallery 2nd floor

    "IN FOCUS" OPENING RECEPTION -  Thursday October 30, 2014 6-8pm. "IN FOCUS"features seven artists' visions in...

  • Antarctica: Photographs by Diane Tuft

    2014.10.28
     @ Bruce Museum

    October 28, 2014 - February 1, 2015 Selections from Gondwana, Images of an Ancient Land Bruce Museum, 1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT...

  • Exhibition: Northern Baroque Splendor

    2014.09.20
     @ Bruce Museum

    Northern Baroque Splendor. The HOHENBUCHAU COLLECTION from: LIECHTENSTEIN. The Princely Collections, Vienna September 20, 2014 - April 12, 2015...

  • Exhibition: Native American Pottery from the Bruce Museum Collection

    2014.11.22
     @ Bruce Museum

      Generously underwritten by Gabelli Funds and The Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund Over the years, the Bruce Museum has...

  • 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival & Santa’s Workshop

    2014.11.28

    Santa and his LIVE reindeer - Dancer, Dasher, Prancer and Blitzen, are coming back to town for the 6th Annual Greenwich Reindeer Festival &...

  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Christmas Tree and Wreath Sale for Charity

    2014.11.29
     @ First Congregational Church of Greenwich

    O, Christmas Tree; O Christmas Tree Buy your tree and help those in need this Christmas! It’s time for the annual Christmas Tree and...

  • "Paper & Stone" an exhibition by Ellen Gordon & Sary Backer at the Loft Artists Gallery

    2014.11.01
     @ Loft Artists Gallery

    Paper and Stone” An exhibition by Sary Backer & Ellen Gordon November 1 - November 30th Artists’ reception: November 8th from 4 – 6 PM...

  • Family Gallery Tours

    2014.10.26
     @ Bruce Museum

    Designed for children ages 6-10 and their families, these tours will provide an interactive, discussion-based tour of the museum’s current...

  • Tuesday Toddler Tours

    2014.11.04
     @ Bruce Museum

    Children ages 3-5 and their adult caregivers are encouraged to come explore the Museum’s collections and exhibitions through picture books...

  • Greenwich Gives

    2014.12.02
     @ Greenwich Avenue

    Looking for a fun way to complete your holiday shopping and give back to your community?    On December 2, 2014, local non-profits...

  • Holiday WOW At Your Front Door!

    2014.12.02
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Beautify your entrance way with luscious holiday evergreens, berries, pinecones and more, sure to last throughout the dreary winter...

  • Exercise as Treatment for Chronic Pain

    2014.12.02
     @ Noble Conference Room Greenwich Hospital

    Presented by Greenwich Hospital and Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists Exercise as Treatment for Chronic Pain Tuesday, 12/2/14 at...

  • Israeli Film Series | Bethlehem

    2014.12.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    Join us throughout the year for award-winning films direct from Israel that will show you Israel through the lens of a movie camera. Following each...

  • Holiday Della Robbia Wreath

    2014.12.03
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Create a lavishly decorated live wreath for your home this holiday season with Maureen FitzPatrick. Using a variety of real...

  • Picture This with Authors Lisa Barr & Gabrielle Selz

    2014.12.03
     @ The Drawing Room

    Authors Lisa Barr & Gabrielle Selz Bring Their Stories of Passion, Chaos & Intrigue from the World of Modern Art to Greenwich...

  • Holiday Tea

    2014.12.04
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Back by popular demand!  An elegant multigenerational holiday tea party featuring a delightful afternoon tea, delicacies and a gift...

  • Jaafar Tazi Salon 7th Anniversary

    2014.12.04

    Jaafar Tazi Salon is celebrating their 7th Anniversary in their newly remodeled salon! Live Music | Cocktails | Hors d' Oeuvres


Show More...
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular Articles

  1. Greenwich Hospital Venezia Gala
    Greenwich Country Club
  2. BCA Annual Luncheon + Fashion Show
    Hyatt Regency Greenwich
  3. Greenwich Happy Hours
    6 places to go in Greenwich for Happy Hour
  4. Greenwich Restaurant Week Opening Night Kick-off Party
    Miller Motorcars
  5. AmeriCares Airlift Benefit
    Westchester County Airport