Well, the title is a little longer than that, but you get the general idea.
Fabulous Finds: How Expert Appraiser Lee Drexler Sold Wall Street’s Charging Bull, Found Hidden Treasures and Mingled with the Rich & Famous is a quick little read (under 200 pages) about art appraisal — determining the value of all sorts of art objects for insurance, estate and sale purposes. She has visited the homes of the rich and famous, of hoarders and eccentrics, and looked at all of their stuff. This is high up on my list of very cool jobs.
It’s a challenging job, putting a price tag on artwork and collectibles. How do you put a price on a one-of-a-kind object, like the Wall Street Bull?* What do you compare to Prince’s guitar to get a comparable price? Interesting questions — but mostly I want to walk around people’s houses and look at their stuff.
For the most part, I enjoyed Fabulous Finds. Drexler has some great stories — not surprising, considering what she does. I love the idea of getting up close and personal with pieces of great art. My favorite was the story of a collector client who scores an amazing find at a church tag sale — I dream of something like that! And how about finding a masterpiece behind a bird cage?
There were a couple of things that bothered me. First, Drexler occasionally defines words for the reader — I hate that! Now, if they are obscure art terms, you might assume that readers find them unfamiliar, but you can still find a way to make them plain without putting a definition in parentheses. When you do that with a fairly common word, like monochromatic, you’re likely to insult your readers.
The other thing that bothered me was the name-dropping — there wasn’t enough of it! If you’re going to name names in the good stories, like Candace Bergen fixing you a cup of tea, then I think you need to come clean on the bad guys as well. Who begrudged you a few slices of lettuce? It’s not fair to deliver only half the goods.
Folks who enjoy Antiques Roadshow and similar shows will enjoy Fabulous Finds: How Expert Appraiser Lee Drexler Sold Wall Street’s Charging Bull, Found Hidden Treasures and Mingled with the Rich & Famous. It’s got some fun stories, a few tips for would-be art collectors, and some interesting background on appraising. My copy was an Advanced Reader Copy, provided free of charge.
*Last week, I posted a short interview with Lee Drexler and I mentioned the Wall Street Bull. Did you know the Bull has a Twitter account? And guess who got a direct message from him!