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Written by Puff Staff

Friday, 18 November 2011

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cigar memorabiliakathleen guzman
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gavel1Exclusive wines, collectible comics, unique cigar memorabilia - whatever you’re looking for, the auction room is the perfect place for a sophisticated gent to spend a spare buck. With its whimsical charm and old-fashioned etiquette, it’s a thrilling way to pick up something rare and wonderful - without having to trawl through the endless maze of shops and galleries. So why not combine your love of the finer things with the thrill of the auction room, and start putting the fun back into buying?

To help you get to grips with your padels and gavels, Puff caught up with celebrity auctioneer Kathleen Guzman, who’s been on the inside of the auction industry for over 25 years. She told us about her passion for auctions, revealed her top tips for first-time bidders, and pointed us towards an extremely rare piece of cigar memorabilia...

Puff: How should a new bidder approach their first auction?

Kathleen: Bring your notebook and not your chequebook. The more learning about what it is you like and might want to collect, will give you a comfort level. Go to the viewings and inspect the item yourself - ask the expert in charge for their insight into the history and quality of the piece. Finally, if you are ready to make a plunge, leave a written absentee bid the first time. The auction house will execute your bid on the floor on your behalf for whatever the last bid in the room is. This way you will not have to worry about overpaying and you can see the process unfold to gain confidence for the future when you do bid in person or online, since most auctioneers now have real time online bidding platforms.

kathleen



Puff: What would you say is the appeal of buying at auction?

Kathleen: There is a rush of excitement to attending and bidding at an auction. It is not like a Gallery where the item might be there next week or next year. At an auction there is a sense of immediacy. There is a defined moment in time when the piece will sell, when the auctioneer bangs down the gavel. You have to be in it to win it.

Puff: What are the advantages of buying something at a live auction?

Kathleen: Since the bidding pool at auction can be anyone - dealers, retail clients, museums - each party has a different level of monetary interest. Often items at auction can go between wholesale and retail, which translates in to a good deal for the purchaser. Additionally, the sheer variety offered in a specialist category is far more plentiful than trying to find a pig in a poke in the more traditional shops, galleries and online.

Puff: What do you think about online auctions? Are they safe?

Kathleen: My advice is deal with a real, live, brick-and-mortar business that is honest and professional. Read the terms of sale and be sure that if indeed it is not as represented, that you can return it. The more information you can find out about the company the better. Meet the experts in that category and ask questions even online. Do your homework!

Puff: During your time as an auctioneer, what’s the most interesting item you’ve seen?

Kathleen: I have sold the ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz many times, once in 1981 for $12,000, again for $121,000 and then again for $600,000. This month they are again being offered with a minimum of $1MM. They are simply magical. When I was to auction them, I started them at $1- so everyone in the room could say that once in their lifetime, they bid on the RUBY SLIPPERS!

Puff: Do you buy items from auctions yourself, or do you stick to auctioning them off?

Kathleen: I am not a big collector, I am a match maker. I love taking a wonderful item for auction and seeing that it makes it into a good home. Nonetheless, I do collect Alice In Wonderland books - so many in fact that when my daughter was born, I had to name her Alice so people would not think they were all for me.

Puff: What items are particularly desirable at the moment?


Kathleen: Collecting follows a trend. Right now we are in a cycle of Modernity, so Contemporary items from the 1950’s to today are very popular. The baby boomers are fueling the prices of wine, illustration art, comics and sports. Heritage has sold a single comic for over $1MM - Detective 27, the first appearance of Batman. Holy smoke Robin!






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