Thursday, September 27, 2007

Decorex International 2007

Chelsea, London UK Sun 23rd - Wed 26th September 2007

Decorex celebrated its thirtieth year of design excellence from 23rd until 26th of September, with impressively vibrant textiles and slick designs. Only a few examples of old design were showcased and these were largely in the form of repro. The absence of natural reused materials was apparent. Some 260 exhibitors set up stands in the prestigious setting of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, among which were Salvo Code dealers Drummonds and Victorian Wood Works, as well as numerous design magazine stands which included House and Garden, Hospitality Interiors Magazine Ltd, English Home and Bridge for Design.

Amongst the new material an intriguing stand stood out, which provided a welcome break from the lavish modern design present almost everywhere, it was the stand of Guy Trench of Antiques by Design which integrated old architectural reclaimed items and materials and turned them into practical and usable decorative home objects such as banister rail tables and old harrow lights.

Contemporary Antiques Limited
Antiques by Design, showcasing examples of home objects made from found salvage

Above: Victorian Wood Works stand

Victorian Wood Works

Above: A Claw foot from a Victorian roll top bath on Drummonds stand, which was crafted in Poland

Above:Installation of a kitsch bathroom on Dummmonds stand

Above:Drummonds stand largely showcasing bathrooms

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gone are the days of the Good the Bad and the Ugly

Billinghurst, Sussex, UK -

Above1: A terracotta Triton blowing a horn, Austrian circa 1870, the highest of the architectural garden lots fetching £19,700, Above2: A terracotta Triton holding a trident, Austrian circa 1870's, the providence by repute is that they were removed from the Vienna Stock Exchange

James Ryland stood at the podium minus a tie for the first time in twenty years, to mark the last ever Sotheby's sale at Billinghurst Summers Place on the 25th September 2007.

Rupert Van Der Werff and James Rylands are 'delighted to announce that from 1st January 2008, Sotheby's sales of garden statuary will be under the auspices of Summers Place Auctions in association with Sothebys.' Under this new banner the regular sales of garden statuary, architectural and fossil decoration will continue but they welcome an additional two and a half acres of landscape viewing ground to form their enhanced sculpture garden. The expansion and take-over potentially suggests that there maybe more sales at Summers place throughout the year, news of which we will eagerly await.

The top antique lot in the garden and architectural section was an attractive terracotta Triton blowing a horn, circa 1870's and reputed to be from the Vienna stock exchange, fetching £19,700. The top fossil was a rare gigantic plate of paradoxides trilobite from Morocco which reached £23,300. The top lot of the sale was a modern set of four carved limestone Seasons, selling for £25,700. The best performer in the contemporary field was 'Fighting Hares' crafted by Paul Jenkins and selling for £14,900,

Their infectious appreciation of fossils is a credit to their fine tuning and knowledge to make them market makers in this sector. Mr Rylands said, 'that fossils are very important to the sale as they are timeless and exceptionally decorative, fitting in just as well in a country cottage as they would in a New York loft apartment.' Their collective passion coupled with the market shift to high end antiques suggests that future sales will include an increasing number of fossil decorations. Additionally both are keen to promote new designers by including a selection of contemporary sculptures sourced from around the world. Perhaps this is a way in which the market and economic climate is moving as taste moves and expands and the buyer increasingly knows what it is they want. However one has to question if these buyers are still in a Sotheby's mindset as much of the contemporary works are figurative with naturalistic or animal references rather than outlandish conceptual pieces, but this again may develop over time. Although a passer-by was heard to refer to the top field of contemporary sculpture as a sculpture park and describe the collection of female and male enameled steel pieces by Danu as handy for target practice. Therefore it seems that they still have a little way to go to infiltrate the mindset of the Sotheby's eighteenth century classic sculpture buyers. However it is commendable that they have taken on this challenge as it is a natural progression and obviously a direction in which they have to go.

The afternoon timing of the sale seemed particularly apt, pandering to US buyers, as the telephones were full whilst the room remained relatively empty. Although it was not quiet, the charismatic character of Mr Rylands filled the room along with the sounds from the latest building work undertaken on Summers Place, which has recently been sold by Sotheby's for development.

The money spiders which hung from the newly erected marquee did not prove a good omen for the sale as 51 per cent sold by lot went unsold. Perhaps even more interestingly the top three lots did not include contemporary sculpture or any older garden or sculptural lots, highlighting the fact which both partners pointed out that the current market is hard to predict .

Above: Sotheby's garden, architectural field view

Above: Kouros, Coquine, Lascive, Miss, Sirena by Danu (or 'Target Practice')

Above: Fossil decoration marquee

Above: Top field of contemporary sculpture - front 'Swan' by Marjan Wouda, horse in background 'Refusal One' by Martin Lowe

Above: The higest modern lot a beautifully balanced sculpture of 'Fighting Hares' by Paul Jenkins reaching £14,900

Above: A gigantic paradoxides trilobite place from Morrocco measuring 168cm; 66ins high by 140cm; 55incs wide, and selling for £23,300

Above: A rare double headed Crinoid plaque Holtzmagen, German, from the Jurrassic period, £20,900

Above: A set of four carved limestone seasons, modern on pedastals 246cm; 97ins high, the record of the sale selling for £25,700

Sotheby's sale catalogue

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Artist to dump vanload of plastic waste into the river Thames

Artist throws plastic waste into River Thames

London, uk

The artist and environmental campaigner Mark McGowan which some of you might remember for Forward rolling all the way from the site of the old Baltic Exchange in London to the Salvo fair in Knebworth complete with reclaimed door and bricks. Plans a new performance piece and this time its a little more controversial...

Mark said "In the name of art an outrageous act was committed today as an artist threw plastic rubbish into the River Thames
in a protest against the total disregard of plastic waste thrown into the rivers, seas and oceans of the world causing an enviromental catastrophe. "Obviously it is very wrong what has happened here today but people everywhere need to be aware that they are destroying the waters of London and the seas of the world with their wanton disregard for the disposal of plastic such as bottles, crisp packets and plastic bags, the effect it is having on our environment is terrible this is happening every minute of the day and night and it's got to stop now!"

Mark agrees that this was a sensationalist art piece and claims it was intentionally so. This project is trying to get peoples attention. Plastic production is out of control, and governments need to address how much people really need plastic, how much they are using and how much they are throwing away. There is a serious imbalance there.It is quite simply very very wrong. We admit what has happened here today is criminal but we consider this act an art piece the pollution in our waters of plastic waste and the over production of plastic is far more criminal. The project is entitled PLASTIC TEARS 2007 which is in reference to Mermaid Tears which are small pieces of un-biodegradable pieces of plastic which are washing up on shores and coastlines all over the world. Some members of the public who witnessed the event got very angry.

The event will take place in London, Bermondsey wall East (by Angel pub) on 23 September 2007 at 12.00.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Extreme architectural auction sale 27 + 28 September

Above: Part of the Temple Bar lodge which stood alongside the now relocated Temple Bar, used by monarchs for their entry to the City of London - one of the lots at the Extreme Architecture auction

Chilham, Kent UK - AUCTION: EXTREME ARCHITECTURE, KENT. Humberts will auction on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th September 2007 the entire stock of architectural salvage, restoration materials, garden statuary and antique furniture of Extreme Architecture.

This year Dennis Buggins of Extreme Architecture sold London's old Baltic Exchange to Estonia for £800,000 (via a free ad on, and it has now been shipped to Tallinn where it is to be rebuilt. Now he is hoping to sell the rest of his fabulous collection.

At the forthcoming auction sale Mr Buggins is seeking some slightly less ambitious reclaimers interested in a other prime British architectural heritage which features among the auction's star lots, namely the dismantled Christopher Wren Lodge from Temple Bar (see photo above), circa 1730, the dismantled Royal Box from Ascot race course designed by Sir Albert Richardson, and the portico from the Lloyds of London building. (See more here)

Keeping abreast of the hitech noughties, Extreme Architecture has enabled live online internet bidding at this auction (courtesy of the Daily Mail Group's Bidmaster software).

SalvoSITE: Humberts auctioneers including the online catalogue link

Above: Elements from the Lloyd's building portico laid out for the sale. The Lutine bell is seen carbved on the capital.

Above: Parts of the Royal Box from Ascot at the sale, with a photo prior to dismantling.

Above: Some of the elements from Temple Bar lodge (the whole lodge is for sale as one lot at the forthcoming auction). See photo at the start of this post for a view prior to its dismantling

St Michael has been stolen

Manchester, uk -
Some of you may remember St Michael from the previous Salvo fair, sadly since relocating to new premises Laurence from Instu in Manchester has lost St Michael, who was stolen from his new premises at the begin of April. After reporting it stolen with the police there followed an amusing anecdote-

Laurence: I had a statue of St. Michael stolen. It's 3 metres high by about 2 metres wide. He's got a huge sword and he's slaying a snake with it

Police: Any distinguishing features?

Laurence: pardon...

(The item is listed on Salvo theft alerts)

Enviromental design for all the family

London, uk -

Designersblock family day
Working with glass artist Matthew Durran and his collaborators, Designersblock will install a specially customised kiln on site. With the help of invited glass artists and designers, Liquid Projects will perform live glass blowing and casting throughout Designersblock turning the waste bottles into a variety of creative forms including a selection of musical instruments made the Designersblock Family Day on Sunday 23rd September.

London Design Festival

Reuse for new design at the London design festival

Above: Max New for 2007 -

London Design Festival 15-25 September

The London Design Festival is one of the largest in the world and therefore it is no wonder that it has grown to incorporate eco-friendly and reused materials in some of its pieces. Innovative organisations such as [re]design and reestore are involved in events attached to the London Design Festival which reuse materials such as reclaimed trolleys, rejected barrows and discarded tables to reform into quirky new design.
Some of London's leading young designers are creating a show based on the creativity and potential of salvage at Liberty, Londons leading stage for design (the date of which will be on the London Design Festival website at a later date) . Unwanted and discarded materials spark the imagination and unearth a world of hidden potential once an object is re-evaluated and reused.

london design festival

Friday, September 07, 2007

What is the buyer's premium?

THE buyer's premium is a charge paid by the buyer of a lot at auction, required by the auctioneers, usually in the form of a percentage of the hammer price.

An example is the auctioneers T W Gaze (whose architectural salvage auctions are regularly featured in SalvoNEWS) who charge 10 per cent buyer's premium to which UK vat is added, bringing the premium to 11.75 per cent including tax.

The buyer's premium is described by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the trade body to which most UK auctioneers belong, as an obligation that the auctioneer's 'Conditions of sale' require buyers to pay. Others describe the buyer's premium as a commission charge. Others call it a levy - which is illegal under European laws.

Specialist lawyers believe that the refusal of a buyer to pay the auctioneer's premium could result in the buyer winning in court, mainly because the auctioneer is not offering any service for its premium. Milton Silverman of Streathers in London wrote that the courts have been alive to the possible conflict of interest when an auctioneer provides a service to both seller and buyer, and an increase in buyer's premium will certainly increase the acuteness of this conflict. [The courts may start to look at buyer's premium more closely now - Antiques Trade Gazette 1 Sep 2007]

A potted history of the buyer's premium

Prior to 1979, auctioneers only charged seller's a premium in order to cover their costs in holding the auction, requiring seller's to pay the auctioneer a percentage of the hammer price, or in the event that the lot failed to reach its minimum price, known as the reserve, a fee often based on a percentage of the estimated value of the lot. The seller's premium was usually around ten per cent.

Competition to attract sellers between Sotheby's and Christie's resulted in deals being offered to reduce the seller's premium. The reduction in seller's premium had to be compensated for somehow, so in 1979 both Christie's and Sotheby's introduced a ten per cent buyer's premium, initially levied on lower value lots. This resulted in an outcry of protest from the art and antiques trade.

Sotheby's and Christie's buyer's premium remained at ten per cent until 1992. The buyer's premium then gradually increased until now, in 2007, both Sotheby's and Christie's have raised the buyer's premium from 20 up to 25 per cent for lower value lots, with the premium reducing for higher value lots. This now allows both auction houses to dispense with the seller's premium completely for their most prestigious clients, and even to offer them a guaranteed return from an auction.

In 2007 Sotheby's outstanding auction guarantees jumped from $274m to $378m which suggests, failing a market collapse, that Sotheby's will do well in the second half of 2007. Forbes reported that:
Sotheby's disclosed in the regulatory filing that its outstanding auction guarantees have jumped to $378 million, from the previously reported total of $274.9 million on Aug. 7. Auction guarantees are made to ensure the consignors a minimum price on an auction sale. Sotheby's is typically entitled to a share of the excess proceeds if the property sells above the auction guarantee price. If the property sells for less than the minimum price, Sotheby's must pay the difference. The auction house said the property related to the current guarantees is being offered primarily in the second half of the year.

Sotheby's and Christie's have identical buyer's premiums in September 2007, which are:
25 per cent on items up to £10,000 ($20,000 or €5,000)
20 per cent on items between £10k ($20k or €5k) and £250k ($500k or €400k)
12 per cent on items higher than £250k ($500k or €400k)
To these premium figures local sales tax will be added, which in the UK is 17.5 per cent VAT.

Therefore an item with a hammer price of £10,000 will cost the buyer £12,937.50.

A spokesman for Christie's justifies the premium, saying that buyers are paying extra for Christie's "bringing a work of art to market and making it available. They benefit from us sourcing things globally and offering them in appropriate places; from our cataloguing, research, and condition reports and from access to our specialists." Sotheby's justifies the premium on much the same grounds. But critics of the premium believe that the buyer receives little in terms of services or protection in return for the payment. In the recent case brought by the Canadian heiress Taylor Thomson against Christie's over some very expensive urns, even the judge seemed at a loss to know what the payment of the premium was for. They also ask how, if the salerooms are acting as agents for the seller to obtain the highest possible price, they can simultaneously represent the buyer without a conflict of interests. The auction houses deny there is such a conflict. "The auctions houses' roles are made clear to both sellers and buyers," says Sotheby's. David Mason, chairman of the MacConnal-Mason Gallery, describes the level of charges, in which the salerooms can take as much as 45 per cent from buyer and seller, as "inappropriate" and "obscene".[Art sales: Anger at 'obscene' saleroom levy - by Colin Gleadell, Telegraph online 9sep07]

RICS Model conditions of business for an auctioneer | Christie's buyer's premiums explained | Forbes | Telegraph online

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Spain claims sunken Inca treasure ship . . . and so do the Incas

Tampa, Florida USA - LAWYERS are preparing for battle over the spoils from a sunken Inca treasure galleon found in international waters off the coast of Spain by Odyssey Marine Explorations. The hoard contained 17 tons of gold and silver, believed to have come from the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, sunk off the coast of Portugal by the British.

John Andersen of the Washington Post writes:
British warships spotted the Spaniards in October 1804 and ordered them to change course and sail for England. Bustamente refused, a battle erupted, and Spain's 36-gun Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes exploded and sank, "breaking like an egg, dumping her yolk into the deep," according to a Spanish account. The ship took with it more than a million silver dollars freshly minted in Spain's American colonies, documents of the time suggest. The lost booty became the stuff of legend, one of the world's great sunken treasures. This spring, modern technology caught up with sea-hunting lore when a U.S.-based salvage company, Odyssey Marine Explorations, announced that it had found a 17-ton hoard of silver and gold artifacts, including about 500,000 coins, at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Estimated value: $500 million. But Odyssey, citing a need to keep looters at bay, isn't saying where it found the wreck, except that it was in international waters in the Atlantic, and claims to be unsure what ship it has found. It has given the wreck the code name Black Swan. But people familiar with the search say the evidence points to the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes. Odyssey's secrecy has touched off a three-month international legal battle. Spanish officials, convinced that the loot could be Spain's, filed suit in the United States to force disclosure of the wreck's name and location, block future recovery efforts and claim what has already been hauled up. The Spanish coast guard has effectively barricaded Odyssey's main salvage vessel, the 251-foot Odyssey Explorer, in the port of Britain's overseas territory of Gibraltar, by threatening to seize it if it ventures out. The fight renews a dispute between archaeologists and commercial salvors over rights to historic wrecks, a quarrel that is growing as new search technology and submersible robots bring to light more graves of ancient ships. It has raised old tensions between Spain on one side and Gibraltar and its mother country, Britain, on the other. And it has pitted a small, Tampa-based U.S. company, which essentially argues that finders are keepers, against Spain, which says it has a right to protect its national heritage.

Not so fast . . . Peru, former home to the Inca civilization, plundered and looted by Spain, is now saying that the gold and silver was stolen from them by the Spanish, a historically fair point one would have thought. Two slight problems: Peru was not a sovereign country in 1804, and did the Inca give the gold to Spain or was it taken by force?

New York Times | Washington Post

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Site waste management plans and business support workshop

Warrington, Cheshire Uk - Envirolink Northwest's Recycling and Waste team has launched a Waste Initiatives Network, designed to share best practice, encourage recycling and support business growth amongst the Northwest waste collectors. Joining the network, and attending the workshops, is free to recycling and waste businesses in the Northwest.

They have 2 events running on the 20th September or the 26th September.

Envirolink Northwest

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Miles Copeland's castle

Above: Chateau Marouatte

St Apre, Dordogne 24, France - MILES Copeland, 63 year old brother of Stewart and erstwhile music manager of Sting and The Police, has toshed an old Dordogne chateau, Chateau Marouatte, using salvage from the UK and USA, according to an article in The Times by Karen Robinson.

As we wander through the salle d’honneur on the first floor of one of the keeps – the central stronghold beyond the now-drained moat – he explains his approach to castle decoration: “I go gothic. I like the look, but I’m not precious whether it’s from 1300 or 1400. I like Pugin revival pieces – old, but not as old as the castle. I think we have about a million dollars’ worth of furniture and fixtures here. But we’re fairly frugal. I’ll design a room and put up wall-paper myself.”

A huge stone fireplace sits at one end of the room; at the other is a 12ft-high wooden sideboard, in a rich shade of gravy, carved with figures of knights and musicians. It came from an auction house in Los Angeles, where the market for gothic gewgaws became seriously overheated for a while after Cher returned from Marouatte fired with enthusiasm.

A carved reredos hangs among suits of armour and holy statues. Ecclesiastical salvage is a vital component throughout, much of it acquired from an antiques shop on Portobello Road, west London. “The late Eddie Phillips knocked down more than 200 churches,” Copeland says, “and I’ve got bits of all of them.”

As we wander from room to room and tower to tower, up and down stone staircases, the effect of the exuberant styling – tapestries, tiles, decorative paint effects, coats of arms – is impressive. But the chateau does feel lived in, even though the family use it only as a holiday home these days. There’s a big television and a full-size billiards table in the games room, which has a touch of Hogwarts about it.

Miles Copeland has a background in music management and lives in California. Stewart Copeland was drummer with The Police. The Copeland family had a secret service American father who helped found the CIA after the second world war, and an English mother who worked for Special Operations Executive during the second world war.

Rocking at the chateau by Karen Robinson