The Allure of Antique Collection- A guide by Gaurav Bhatia, Sotheby’s Ex-MD

The world is full of collectors, some just don’t know it yet. After years in the art and luxury industry, Gaurav Bhatia, former MD of Sotheby’s has had many clients who claim never to have connected with art, only to become passionate collectors once bitten buy the bug. The most rewarding part of his practice has been helping clients discover their passion. He says, “If you think back to your childhood, you’ll surely remember something you collected with unbridled enthusiasm. Whatever the object, it’s a connection. Art is much like that. So rewarding.  Whether they be expensive or reasonable, academic or whimsy, small or large, nothing surpasses the thrill of the chase.”

Collectors of antiques do so for several reasons, such as the sentimental value they hold for the items. Many people start an antique business because they enjoy restoring antiques and selling them. However, for others, it’s really not about the money. The thrill of finding an antique can be quite high. Most collectors enjoy visiting antique shops throughout the country to find a specific antique.

Moreover, new collectors shy away from starting collections for fear of buying questionable items from unscrupulous sellers. Hobbyists are at risk of becoming discouraged after buying a phony antique or reproduction for an excessive price.

Sharing his guide to collecting antiques that stand the test of time, Gaurav Bhatia, Ex MD Sotheby’s says that it’s very important to buy from a recognised source. To make sure that the antique you are buying is authentic, one must ensure that they are buying from a reputed gallery. Another very easy and genuine way of buying is to keep a track of auctions. Institutions like Christie’s, Saffronart, AstaGuru, and Sotheby’s which Gaurav Bhatia was himself a part of, organise yearly sales and auctions. 

Being patient while choosing antiques and art is very important. Bhatia says, “To see art, you don’t need to have the eye of a hawk. You just have to appreciate. And go to the right gallery, speak to the experts; but go with your final choice. To pick out an antique, you do need to have the eyes of a trained hawk. So its best to buy from reputed institutions and reknowned dealers. It takes years of taste in art and luxury to pick out an old piece that speaks luxury. Therefore, patience is the key.” 

Bhatia recommends mixing old and new. Says Bhatia, “Vintage Indian antiques pair brilliantly with contemporary furniture and period furniture works beautifully with Indian contemporary art. The mix can be very interesting.” Adding to that he says, “A great indicator for pricing is the internet, as it’s a great source of information. If you want to avoid getting duped, do your research. As if you were buying a piece of jewellery, take the time to learn as much as you can.” 

Bhatia believes, “Choosing art and antiquities is much like choosing a life partner; it is about an instant connection, chemistry, what appeals to you. Then you look at character and depth: how relevant is it, what conversation is it making, and can you grow old with it?” 

Ultimately, antiques are ephemeral mementos of culture and heritage. Once in happy homes, perhaps a palace, or simply a moment of joy, they are meant to be treasured as mementos of a lost era.

Twitter account:Gaurav Bhatia Sotheby’s

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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