The Irish Times Gloss Magazine, Jan 2015 Article



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CAROL BELLAMY is photographed in the drawing room of a client’s house for whom she is building a rather special collection of furniture, most of it Viennese and French Art Nouveau. The client, a seasoned collector of other periods, was drawn to this particular era by Bellamy, who identified it as a good bet – although getting a return on his investment was more of a priority for her than it was for him. “When starting a collection it’s very important to have an informed view, not to get carried away. Clients may just want to live with and enjoy the pieces they have bought, but I also want them to have the satisfaction that they represent money well spent.”

Bellamy’s training in furniture, interior design and valuation has taught her the discipline of wise investing. Although antiques may not be the most conventional way of making money, once you know what to look for, they can provide potentially impressive long-term returns. Bellamy’s rule of thumb is to source pieces whose history she can track. “If a certain type of piece shows up at auction regularly, it’s easy to monitor its

“Clients may just want to ENJOY the pieces, but
I want them to have the
SATISFACTION that they represent money well spent.”

value, to make regional price comparisons.” This is very important, she points out, as certain things may make twice the price in London as they do in Genoa. She loves buying in Paris, where there are abundant spoils: “You can do really well buying 1930s, 1960s or 1970s pieces.” Italian lighting between 1940 and 1960 is beautiful and undervalued, says Bellamy. “You may have to do a bit of work on it – enamelling or restoring brasswork – but it’s worth it.” With paltry returns from putting their savings in the bank, Bellamy’s clients are often pleasantly surprised when she does their annual valuation. “While the assets don’t produce any earnings or income, they hold their value and often increase in value and all the while the client gets to enjoy them.”

Bellamy’s determination to make conscientious purchases and her ability to resist temptation at auction pays off. She has just valued a corporate collection that has appreciated by more than 400 per cent over a couple of decades. Needless to say, the majority was acquired well before the boom years which distorted everything. “I don’t entirely agree with the advice that you should only buy what you like. If a number of people are going for the same piece on the same day, chances are you’ll end up paying well over the market value. You need to know when to hold back. Anyone can start to source things they like by participating in the selection process, getting good advice and becoming better informed.”

HIDDEN GAINS As well as appreciating the day to day value of working with furniture and art, Bellamy gets a kick out of getting the numbers right too: “It makes building a good collection worthwhile.”