Enter the high-stakes world of buying and selling artworks in the series Dealers, writes Nur Aqidah Azizi
AS an international art dealer, Hong Kong-born Jenny Pat has a very discerning eye.
“That is a classic Citizen watch. I reckon it’s from the 70s,” said Pat, pointing at the watch on my wrist.
I was taken aback, and before I could say anything, Pat immediately asked: “Mind if I take a look?”
I took the watch off, which had belonged to my late father, and Pat inspected it closely.
“I noticed it the moment you walked in. This is a classic watch,” she said, smiling.
As a visual art specialist, Pat has authenticated countless art pieces and more than 20,000 paintings.
“Authenticating can’t be learnt from books. It comes from experience — you have to look at the artworks and learn as you go along,” said Pat.
“There are many angles to look at when authenticating work. For paintings, you have to know how it’s done, who has owned it beforehand, the story behind it, its provenance, the paper, the ink and the list goes on. All these little things help a long way in your work.
“And that’s also the reason why I decided to study art conservation.”
Pat, a graduate in Asian Art History from University of British Columbia, began her career working for an auction house in Beijing, China.
She left after six years to study art conservation and later was recruited as an art specialist at Christie’s auction house in Hong Kong.
“When I left my first job in Beijing, I still had people asking me whether I could help them. Of course I said ‘yes’.
“It was quite easy for me — I just had to call up a few people and asked whether they were interested to buy the works. I like helping people find something that they like,” said Pat who was in KL recently, to promote Discovery Channel’s latest series, Dealers.
Pat, 30, is among the five expert dealers featured in the series, whichexplores the world of high-stake buying and selling.
Dealers also features Nikolas Robinson, a pawnbroker and jewellerydealer based in Britain; Richard Gauntlett, an international dealer who specialises in 20th Century art, antiques and historic motor cars; Gillian Anderson Price, an antiques and vintage decorative accessories boutique owner and dealer based in New York and London; and Scott Diament, who is chief operating officer of an art and antiques show group and co-owns a chain of high-end jewellery stores.
Each hour-long episode of Dealers gives viewers unprecedented access to a collection of fascinating objects and their personal stories, as each seller pitches the item’s value and history to the dealers.
Each dealer uses his wealth of knowledge and expertise to unlock the history and value of a seller’s chosen treasures, gambling his own money as they bid against each other to buy the collectibles in the hope of securing the biggest pay-off.
Gambling her own money is not really that much of a risk for Pat.
“The rule is simple, if you like it, then you’d buy it and make profit out of it. It is other challenges that pose risks to our task,” said Pat, who runs Article Gallery in Hong Kong.
Pat added the lack of time to do research has been the biggest challenge so far.
“We don’t know the item and as soon as they unveil it, you have to evaluate it in a limited period of time. And to evaluate something that you don’t know and you have never seen before, is quite challenging,” said Pat, adding that the opportunity to be a part of the expert team in Dealers came as an awkward offer for her initially.
“Honestly, I was sceptical about the concept of the show at first. My interest was in Chinese paintings and Asian arts but the show appears to cover a lot of other things, which I thought I had no interest in. But I was totally wrong,” said Pat.
“I had fun working on the show and discovered that I started to develop interest in other things besides arts. And it has proven to be a fun experience,” said Pat.
This five-part series will see a shock bid on a 200 million-year-old plesiosaur fossil; a post-war diamond watch which causes friction between Price and Diament; tough negotiations between a dedicated meteorite hunter and Diamnet over some rare rocks from outer space; and Price’s criticism of some iconic, vintage costume jewellery made by Coco Chanel puts an important deal in jeopardy.
“There were a lot of bizarre stuff that had been brought in to us. I remember one of the sellers, who brought a pair of socks which he claimed had belonged to Michael Jackson. I didn’t buy the story because I found the socks too clean. Perhaps the only thing was to smell them, which I didn’t do,” said Pat, laughing.
Dealers airs every Wednesday at 9pm with repeats every Saturday at 6pm on Discovery Channel (Astro channel 551).