Photo by Ester Gebuis

Q&A with Hélène

Q: “Independent art advice: who needs that, really?”

“Everybody who seriously thinks of buying and selling good art! During my twenty years of experience in the international art world, I have come to realise that it can seem daunting for non-insiders. What if you inherit a painting, but it is not to your taste? Or how do you divide one painting through four heirs? You can sell, but how do you know you get the best price? And what about the costs? Even if you feel experienced in the art world, it can help to have someone by your side who acts as a sparring partner, offering objective and impartial advice”.

Q: “All right, but what about buying? Isn’t that a matter of taste?”

“Well, yes and no. Of course you should buy what you like. But if you’re buying Old Masters or Impressionists or 19th Century Paintings, you have to consider attribution, provenance, condition, literature, certificates and so on. Alternatively, if you collect contemporary art these days, you will want to buy art that has longevity and that will not be immediately “under water” once you bought it. In both cases, that is where extensive research and experience come in. ”

Q: “How does it work? Can you describe the process?”

“It always starts with a total inventory of the clients wishes and objectives, whether buying or selling. Having established their goals, we take it from there. When selling, we look at the best way to do it, whether at auction, through a dealer or privately. We always do a lot of research: sometimes we will consult third parties such as external experts and restorers. We handle the full process, from negotiating costs to communications to the highest possible result. When selling at auction, we monitor the marketing strategy, estimates, catalogue texts to financial details. Basically we do everything to realise the best possible result.

If you are a buyer, whether buying one single expensive piece or building a collection, we guide you through that whole process as well. We can visit auctions, galleries, dealers, and international art fairs and artists’ studios with you to find the right pieces, or we can make selection of high quality artworks that suit your requirements. Again, we do a lot of research to assure you buy the best possible pieces. ”

Q: “But you don’t have crystal ball either, do you? How do you know what is “good” contemporary art?”

“I wish I had! Especially the global contemporary art market can seem confusing at times. It seems that anything goes. But there are some hard criteria for contemporary artists as well: do they win prizes? Do they get good shows at galleries and museums? Are they in good public and private collections? These are things to consider, if you see a piece you love.”

Q: “What about the customized experiences you offer?”

“Besides buying and selling art, I offer a bespoke service for corporate and private clients who are interested in the art world. This can vary from a visit to an interesting artist’s studio, an exciting exhibition or a great gallery, to lectures on specific aspects of the art world. I do Masterclasses at well, to guide people through the highlights of great art fairs such as Frieze London or Tefaf Maastricht or Pan Amsterdam. Sometimes people have specific requests, such as research projects. We go through lengths to meet requirements. And I write! Not only the Agenda Updates and articles for Residence Magazine but for corporate clients I create tailor-made projects, such as the Tefaf highlights compilation for ABN AMRO Mees Pierson each year.”

Q: “And you do valuations, don’t you ?

“Yes, I do valuations of 19th century and modern paintings. These can be for insurance or inheritance purposes or to give an estimate of market value.”

Q: “So, what about the costs of your services?”

“In the end, good advice pays itself back. I believe in a transparent earnings system, which I discuss and agree on with clients before starting. No surprises afterwards.”

Q: “Last question: why should we come to you ? What makes your company stand out?”

(Laughs) “Well, I am extremely serious about what I do. I strongly believe that offering the highest quality of service results in happy, returning clients who buy and sell the best quality in art. With all my clients I have built longstanding relationships, some of the families I have known for more than twenty years. To build that trust is only possible by being utterly discreet, dependable and professional. We are focussed, discreet and very tenacious in obtaining the best possible results for our clients.

But I also believe that the whole process, whether buying or selling, should be fun! I like to think we make the art world a little bit more accessible. There are so much great artists, knowledgeable dealers and interesting galleries out there. Art is there to make life more beautiful and interesting. In the end it really should be enjoyed.”

© DFL