I’ve got an interesting review coming up and an equally interesting interview today to go with it! Today, I’ve got J. Lee Drexler, author of Fabulous Finds: How Expert Appraiser Lee Drexler Sold Wall Street’s Charging Bull, Found Hidden Treasures and Mingled with the Rich & Famous. There are some great stories in this book and I am really looking forward to it. (I love Antiques Roadshow and shows like it, although I have to admit that I’m amused when their treasures turn out to be trash.) In the meantime, I got the chance to ask Lee some questions about her appraising career:
1. How did you get started in the appraisal business? Did you start off wanting to be involved with antiques and artwork, or is it something you wandered into?
I have a very extensive art history background and my husband (who is the co-author of the book and an estates attorney) suggested I go into appraisal work.
I spent time in Paris studying at the Louvre and at the Museum of Decorative Art. I studied at all the major art museums of Europe and then graduated from Tufts University. Several years went by during which I got married and had children. I then became an interior decorator but wasn’t enjoying it too much. That was when my husband suggested I become an appraiser. I started apprenticing for three years and then started my own business.
I have been interested in antiques and fine art since I was four years old. You will find out more about this in my book!
2. I don’t want to spoil the stories in the book, but what is the most unusual item you’ve been asked to appraise?
The biggest and most unusual item was the Bull on Wall Street.
3. What’s the most common scam you see people fall victim to, or the one thing they should avoid if they don’t want to be cheated?
Paying too much for antiques and buying a reproduction that is called an antique . Buying “Put together” antiques – when two different antiques are put together and sold as one piece. An antique shouldn’t have more than a 20% replacement. The biggest scam is buying prints that are forgeries; particularly by Picasso, Miro, Chagall, Calder, and Dali.
4. Do you collect anything yourself? Do you stop at yard sales or thrift stores and look for treasures?
I collect many different things including miniature clocks. I think they are unique, interesting and beautiful. Each one is different from the next, representing different eras.
I occasionally stop at yard sales but generally speaking I don’t think there is anything of value there anymore. I do go to auctions and buy at auctions.
5. What’s your favorite museum to visit? Do you have a particular work or gallery there that you love to re-visit?
I love the Metropolitan, the Louvre and the Tate in London as well as the Musée Marmottan and its Monet exhibit. I enjoy Impressionists and American paintings the most.
6. Do you watch shows like Antiques Roadshow, just to check the work of their experts?
Yes, I do and I enjoy it. However, I don’t always agree with the pricing.
Boy, now I wish I had the chance to ask some follow-up questions on the pricing!