Blog Post No.116
The World of Antique Appraisals and Auction Houses
Andrew IS highly experienced in all aspects of estate management, art and antiques, from organising the sale of goods, valuations, probate valuations when a relative has passed away, to overseas shipping, to supervising house clearances and relocation plans.
To connect with this expert, email firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are a member log in to connect with Andrew directly by clicking on his profile on this page or via ‘Hire an expert’.
We discuss with Andrew about high net worth antiques, the difference between the major auction houses and secondary auctions, and how Andrew uses his expertise and connections to maximise the profits for the estates.
Besides his knowledge, bringing in top experts to value the items for the clients is equally important: from wine to guns, from silver & jewellery to paintings.
When breaking down a house, he starts at the very top with the high net worth items all the way to the bottom. So things will go to the high-end auction, the secondary auction, the third auction, or to charities.
London property homes super prime, where you can find informative educational and entertaining content, covering all aspects of property.
Hello, and welcome to London property, the home of super prime. I’m your host Farnaz Fazaipour. And today we’re in conversation with Andrew Hudson of Andrew Hudson consultants, who is going to tell us about his very interesting journey. Welcome to the show. Good morning. So Andrew, let’s talk about how your journey began and how you got to where we are today.
Pleasure. Well, that goes back a few years. I left England many years ago, probably about 25. And ended up in America working as a butler to high net worth clients on the West Coast, which was certainly interesting and very varied. That ran for a number of years. And after a time I am quite strangely, I was offered an opportunity to run a sale in a house of antiques, which was nothing I’d ever done before. But the people trusted me then they knew my reputation. And they said, why don’t you do it. So I did the sale. We generated I think 35,000 In two days in out of a small house on the West Coast. And I’d never done anything like this was totally new to me, something that’s not undertaken in England, how sales and estate sales in America are commonplace. So this was something new to me. And it was put a seed at the back of my mind. So it seems a natural progression to pick up this antiques business of doing a state sales and sales, which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Previously in England, I had done a little bit of that, but not much. So very quickly. And fortunately, I seem to pick up a following in the antiques world where I was living, which was Portland, Oregon. And I made many connections and was soon working with a number of auction houses. A company called Butterbeer, Butterfield and Butterfield who was eventually bought by eBay, and then eventually bought by bonnets. So I worked with them. And eventually, through circumstances, I was hired by eBay to run the Portland region to bring stuff into auction. And eventually that was then sold to bottoms. And so I worked for volumes as what we call the trust and an estate executive. So my job was to work with high net worth clients in the Oregon and West Coast region, an area is 600 by 300 miles. So working in America was fascinating because there was so many aspects to the antiques and collectible world. Everybody who goes to America takes the best with them, usually the smallest, but they take the best. And so you have all of this arrives in America. Then you have the South American and you have the huge Asian market, which is also comes up particularly on the west coast. So in America, you are always confronted with a vast selection of antiques and collectibles. So the business is always fascinating. So I worked there, up until the 2007, which was a wonderful time for me, but due to family commitments, I had to return and set up a business in England.
So having come to England set up your own consultancy here. If somebody was to say, what is Andrew Hudson consultants? What how would you explain it?
I think the best way to describe my business is and I know my client won’t mind is to share a case study that we were involved in last year. It was a small property. It had 48 sections, which is basically a zone or room is a section and we were asked to come in at very short notice to completely break down the house. They lived in the house for 300 years. So for them it was a very emotional time. And as I understand some of the I was able to empathise and sympathise with the client at the same time, conduct the process of breaking down this large project and house and doing it quickly and efficiently. In the short period we were there, we brought in I think 30 vehicles and trucks to clear the property. But in the state in the case of this first and foremost, we had high net worth antiques to be shipped to private individuals to major auction houses and also be to be kept by the beneficiaries. Then there was the secondary auction level which we managed, oversaw and placed for the clients and and oversaw all of that. So they had not to bid they were not involved in any of that. So it was a smooth process. Then was the involvement of removing stuff from the house sort of been of no value at all over the years that have been tucked away, and then cleaning the whole property, it was a small, stately home. But from start to finish, we manage every aspect, whether that was valuation that was working with teams of values that we work with, from all of that aspect to moving wine to specialist sellers, to moving a carriage which had been there from the 19th century to cars, to every aspect, but the real thrill thing for the client was is that it was an emotional time. And through our expertise, were able to come in and take all the strain away. So they were to able to work through the process of just moving, although it was stressful for them, just to be able to help them move, get the job done, and manage it. So for them, it was as painful, painless, as stressless as possible.
So when you go into a project, as you, as you mentioned, you know, there’s obviously the high value, antiques and belongings, which every auction has is interested in. That’s what they want first. And then what happens is you got all the other stuff, which makes up 70% of the job. And then nobody’s interested in,
but I’ve said we obviously because I understand the terminology. Yeah, I said We then sent items to secondary auction. So we sent 10 vans to secondary auction. So the best went to the major auctions, and then all the other stuff. So using my expertise, I sent everything I could to secondary auction. So nothing only the very rubbish of any items of any rubbish gets is disposed of.
So for those of us who are not experts, what is what is the difference between the major auction houses and the secondary auction,
major auction houses all have obviously, we’d like a very higher end stuff, but they have a cutoff figure, which is some auction houses, they don’t sell items below one or 2000, some below 500. That’s their, that’s their bottom line limit. So let’s say you’re using an auction house that has a bottom line limit of 500. So then you have that zone. So at below that I can then using my expertise, choose a relevant auction house that can take everything, whether it’s a nice piece of furniture or a set of dining room chairs is worth three to 400 pounds. But also the fact is some of them will take the garden Norma, the sheds, all the other bits and pieces, which actually add up to be tools and all that will actually add up to a fair amount of money that can all go as well. So anything and everything can go to auction unless it’s complete waste and rubbish. And that’s what we specialise in, therefore maximising the contents and the state and finances for the client.
And also in this day and age, people actually get really anxious by having waste and throwing things away. And they you know, that’s also I would imagine, it’s part of the process that you need to manage. So, you know, don’t throw that away, it’s been here for 300 years, what are you going to do with it. So I suppose there is also an element of giving things away to charity or recycling, taking to the dump all of that you so basically, you go right from the top, right from the top all the way down to the bottom,
we start at the very top, and the high net worth items all the way to the very bottom. So that can go from the high end auction, the secondary auction the third auction to charities which we have a charity we’d like to give to in London, they’re very good. And there are others we use. And then obviously then we look at what is left for disposable waste, all of that goes to certified waste dumps which is all correct. Obviously, it needs to be items that can be disposed of in bulk as in so for the Eco property properties today needs to be done. So we work on that view is if we can’t if we don’t have to throw it away, we will not because one is waste and to its cost and it’s time and that’s not an efficient way of running a business.
For somebody to find out about a service like yours, it’s really word of mouth and recommendations. It’s not like you know, I’m gonna pick up the yellow pages which probably half our listeners don’t know what that means, but it’s not like they they look up a service and find it it really is something that you will be fortunate enough to hear about in the right circles.
Various correct as as you’ve understood about my business, we came back in 2000 in the early 2007. I’ve been building the business since then. And we have not we have been we have been at almost unheard of until recently but the major auction houses like to use us because we solve all the problems but separate from that I work with an up quite a few groups of solicitors. I also have private clients as well that I use as well. But on the whole we I’m very, we’re not very well known, which we will shortly be changing one because we’re here. And secondly, also, the company is growing and we’re changing. But we find, particularly in the market today, we fit a niche that is not fulfilled, because major auction houses, and rightly so they want the best secondary auction houses can’t handle the top, they’re not interested in in the lower end. And so for myself having been in the auction business for so long, I can come into a property, I can assess the good, the bad and the ugly. By walking through it, I know who the right people are to bring in and know where those things to go to be sold to maximise for the estate. And then I can assess all those aspects of breaking down the home, from the top to the lowest level. Nobody can know everything. But I’m very fortunate because I’ve been in the business so long that I have a wonderful diary and phonebook of top experts who can be brought into a value all the items for the clients, which are in many genres, from wine, to guns, to silver, to jewellery, to paintings, all these people are in our database for helping assisting our clients.
And there’s so many different layers, right, because it’s not just knowing who to go to for what, but then you’ve got issues of shipping things customs insurance handling, packaging, it just goes on and on and on. And this is something that basically you take care of, without any involvement from from the client, or as much as they want to put in,
I would say if the client’s given us the brief to manage it, we will run what they require, if they want things to be shipped abroad, we can handle that. I am an a very specialist Packer. And I know how to pack so I oversee anything that is fine, I know who to bring in to get to have the work undertaken correctly. If we need a specialist company, which is large to undertake the move for the client, we will get them in We will negotiate a fair price rather than being taken advantage of and we will organise and run the project that’s our aim to run it from start to finish to be most effective for the client. And cost effective will house having so many fine things that you can have the very best that the next category, and going all the way down through levels and values. All of these we can handle by because one, we have the expertise. We also know all the right experts where we do not have that knowledge, one can never say one has all the knowledge in this business, if you if they say that don’t employ them, because you cannot do it that there is such a vast amount of knowledge you require. But fortunately, having been 25 years in the business, I can walk into a house. And I can do an overview and say, Okay, we need the painting expert for that we need the gun person that that car needs to be repaired with so and so. And then it can be sold. And then the house can be broken down. And then all of this stuff, which is the vast amount which is secondary can go to a secondary auction, and will not be disposed of but will will bring financial return to the family. Every project that we undertake, there is always there are always many different things that we can look at the last project we worked on, there was fishing, there was books, there was car memorabilia, there was some reasonably good furniture, and all of those went to different levels of auction houses, some some of the top somewhere lower. But the key is, is I can walk in and make that decision. And if I’m not sure I can, I can speak to one of the experts I know. And in doing so I’m undertaking and taking care of the clients estate, I’m looking after that client. When we run an estate, we come in and we work for that client. And our job is to maximise financial return for the client.
Obviously every house is different and every situation is different. But broadly speaking from when you first go into a property, finish the valuation process, do the packing the shipping and cleaning and close shop. How long does that process normally take a person
we are capable of moving very quickly. Obviously it would be nice to have time and not be too rushed. But I would say if we’re contacted by a client, we need to get valuers in to look at items to go to specific places that might take a week. But if we have to let say, a week or two to get that together so long as I’ve can get all the specialists available. And then if we have to push it from start to finish a month, we were contracted recently to work on a property, and I saw the House on Thursday, that hadn’t been there before. I turned up with the team on the Monday, and we worked for eight days straight, and it was completely empty. And it should have taken two weeks, we are happy to move everything to get the job done to the clients requirements, if possible, we will do that. But obviously, it’s best to take a little time and get it right. No mistakes for the client and make the thing, if you rash errors can occur. Yes, we can be very quick and we will get things done quicker than most people. But a sensible amount of time is always best.
Obviously, you deal with a lot of people who’ve got big homes that need to be relocated or emptied or sold, or they’re in a probate situation or what have you. But is there a common link? Would you say between the different types of people that you deal with what have you noticed,
working with high net worth clients is what they really want is they do not want to be taken advantage of. They want trust. I think one of the most important things amongst all of this group of people is is trust and discretion. I think having worked with lots of auction houses and private clients already in my life who CRO is if they if you can walk in with the client, and they can relax with you. And you can build that relationship. And when you’re working with high net worth clients, in their homes, particularly. Yes, we are providing a service and it’s in and out. But if they can have a somewhat of a relationship and relax with you and trust you, then the job is so much easier. And it is a much easier process. I’ve found that on many of the jobs when I first got in the client doesn’t trust me, we’ve we did a job recently for a client, a lovely man and his wife. We got to the house, and they had a security guard. And he followed us from every room when we were first there. And that was the first day the following morning, greeted by the owner. He made his lovely coffee. And we never saw the security guard again. Because the clients want trust and security. And I think for the team that I have, I only use people I’ve known for a long time. The the moving crews i i use are only used by certain auction houses which are highly trusted. So what I bring to the table is security. And I think trust. Now I think you said what the clients want. I think one of the biggest things in today is trust and security. Because the high not high net worth people can be abused. And people think because they got a lot of money. Oh, doesn’t matter, we’ll put them on the bill and actually, but the bill up. And also, the other thing is, is that you never know who you’re going to get on a crew or a team. Because large companies. And there are many large companies and many of them do find jobs and I’m not putting anyone down. But on any given day, they can have what we call a standard. And they don’t know where that guy’s come, he’s come from an agency, I won’t have any of that. All my jobs are only with people I know and can vouch for. So some of the people I’ve worked with who are very particular, they don’t want on any modules anyone unless I know them or they’ve been with me a while. So that way, when they’ve got the Dodgers back, they open up the vault which happened to us not long ago, there was a walk involved, it was a size of this room was about 12 by 12. They open the vault up, he gave me the keys and he walked away for three days. And it was full of gold and silver and guns and bits and pieces which he had licenced for his option, but that’s what clients do. So from my point of view, the most important thing is security and trust with the clients. And I think today, that is probably the most important thing. And that’s what I like to bring with a business that I work very hard. And obviously in situations particularly where its losses occur, which we unfortunately we do quite a lot of that because of probates and assisting families. Like we’ve had clients who’ve come in might come in from France or abroad for a week. They might come in to help do the funeral and they’ve got a house to lock up. They want they don’t know what to do with it. So very it’s our privilege to come in and help them through this time. of which is very difficult, it can be stressful and very emotional for them. And having done a number of jobs like this, I can empathise with them, and just take them through and take all the strain as much as we’re able to as they are, if the client will let us do it, we will take all that away from them. And that’s what a good company should do you hire us, or any company that says they can provide a service and they put that that’s what they do, then that’s what should happen. I am very hands on and very particular, I think that’s because one, possibly in my past, I was a butler, too. I’ve been in the auction business on earth now for 1025 years, I think. So from my point of view, integrity, and trust is the most important thing in the business today. And unfortunately, it’s a little in short supply.
Well, it’s really important to be personal with people isn’t that it’s it’s key, especially at this level. And the other thing is really value. So you work in an industry where there’s a lot of collaboration. So does that allow you to keep your fees at a level? Because I guess for transparency sake, I imagine that the clients expect that you will get referral fees, maybe from different auction houses. So does that enable you to be even more of a valuable service, because you’re already coming in dealing with a situation that requires quite a lot of expertise and quite a lot of reach? And yes, as you say, you’re there to maximise the financial return as well as take away all the rubbish. So does does does the business model of collaborating with so many different people allow you to be quite competitive in how you charge a client?
I think it does. But the key is, is the number one, it’s the size of the project, what is involved, and the scope, obviously, the larger the project. And there may be introductory commissions, and obviously the fees for the commissions and fees for working on the job. So obviously, when you are introduced the client, you look at the scale of job and you then you’ve got the first picture of what you’re dealing with, you can then say to the client, okay, well, then this is here. And this is going to produce this, there will be fees here. Our costs for doing the works are here. So then one level wants to take what take advantage of the client, I’m in this business to make money. But this end of the time, I’m only good as my last job. So to me, it is very important that the client comes away, knowing that they have not been taken advantage of that they’re happy with what they’ve received from the sale of their items. But also, the fact is, it’s a fair deal for them, and for myself, and also everyone involved. If that’s the if that works, then the client is going to be happy every time. And so but it again, it comes down to the scale of the project. And what’s involved. Obviously, that’s if we’re selling antiques and art or collectibles, that’s when that comes in.
So if you were speaking to a potential client, and you weren’t Andrew Hudson, but you know everything that you know now, because obviously your first thing would be to use our services, because we are going to do not disappoint you. But what are the do’s and don’ts that you would say to a potential client in this situation that they’re going out to market and the same, right? Sadly, you know, someone in our family has passed away, there’s a huge estate here that we need to deal with. And we want to make sure to not be taken advantage of and maximise what we get out of it. So what are the do’s and don’ts that you will you will tell a client to watch out for
my best suggestion if you have a house, which has many objects and you’re uncertain what to do with them, is always go to a trusted professional, whether that’s a leading valuer or an auction house because they have credentials, and they have ethics. Because if you don’t know what is in your home and your family over the years has had many fine things as bought all the right places. There will be things in the family and the estate of value. And if you’re particularly using an auction house, they make money out of selling the item for as much money. So it’s in their interest to get the best things and sell them for the most money. That’s the benefit of an auction house. So on that case basis, you’re better off going to an auction. You must always use a bet at a top independent or an auction house to value and look at your items. Because unfortunately, there are people who will take advantage of people especially when are in situations of bereavement or emotions. And I’ve had clients, when I’ve walked in the door said, I want I want any of it, I want it, we’ll go and get rid of it now. And it’s like, but that’s what No, I just want it all gone. Don’t look at any of it. And you sort of like have to then take the client and hold back a little bit and say, look, please, can we help you here to get this where it needs to go. So, never rush at anything that’s in a home, get always get the right people to go and look at over it. Sometimes it’s might be worth having more than one company, look at the items, if you have a fine painting, or good objects. They won’t like me for saying this, but get more than one company to look at it and let them see we’ll give you the best deal for it. I mean, that’s one of the advantage for us, that’s what we would do, we would do that for you to get you the best deal. But if you’re doing this on your own, check out everybody who comes through that door and make sure you’re secure. And they have your best interests at heart.
What’s the most challenging project you’ve worked on? That’s had so many different facets. So you can just paint a little picture for a would be listener here that says, Oh, my gosh, you’ve done all of that and doing my job is going to be a walk in the park.
So a little bit of a horror story. This one client’s being taken advantage of things being left and hidden for years. The contents originally came from a 20,000 square foot castle. And then they were put into a 5000 square foot house, which basically when you open the front door, you were confronted with a channel that you walked through a boxes. And it was like an Aladdin’s cave or a labyrinth to say. And so we went up to the, to the bedroom. And there was a huge gilded giant bed. And it was all screens around and a lady of great wealth and note, bless her lived there. And she’d now passed away. And in this house was an Oscar which we very quickly found that wasn’t, wasn’t too difficult. But also they’re supposed to be a pair of Judy Garland some shoes, supposed to be a pair of those in the house, which obviously, in today’s market would be quite desirable. So they were supposed to be there. And so we were looking for those, we found the Oscar. And then when I say there was Why don’t know, five to 600 boxes of rubbish. So the client said, could you throw them away? So we did? And I said, really? And I said you shouldn’t. So unfortunately I might I was not listened to because I’d opened some of the boxes to look at what they were. But they threw them away. The executive said thrown away in two huge dumpsters. So the following day, they say could you take them all back because I’d found a card. And one card said from the kernel, and Elvis, and then throw them all away. So the following day, and we had to go through two to three giant dumpsters, which we don’t get here and find all the boxes with all the cards from Bing and Elvis and everything that was pain. And then we still hadn’t find the shoes. And then I went under the stairs and I lifted a box down and in front of me was a pygmies head with a spear through it. And I nearly fell over because when I moved the box, it was here. And that was the strangest thing I’ve ever found on the house. That job, which was only 5000 square foot took a team of 16 people one month to do. That was the hardest and longest, most frustrating job. And thankfully, I haven’t had one like that since.
And what’s the most valuable thing that surprised everybody that you found?
It’s really funny. It’s one of those moments where you sort of stop. I walked past a door which was to a lounge and I was a myth step. And I stopped because I just saw this gilded painting. And I’m not a painting expert, but I have a good knowledge of art. And I saw this little girl above the fireplace and she was in a gilded dress. And the frame was just amazing. But it wasn’t very big. It was only about 30 inches high. 18 wide. And I looked at it and I said Do you know who that’s by? I said well, we’re not sure it could be. So fortunately I was able to look at the painting. I took it down and then there was a store is evaluated. I then took it across the country. I got permission with the company I was working. We took it across America at the Time, we took it to Chicago. And we gave it to an expert. And it was valued. And it was, it came down to be a last Whistler. So today’s value on that is, I suppose 1.5 to $2 million. And they had no idea, they had no idea. I found some books that were no one thought actually believe the book now sells for a million. It’s a very rare book, but I found three of them in the same house. So that was quite fortunate, they had three, not one, but three. So that was nice. So it’s, but I would say, when you find great things, and great value, it’s wonderful. But for us, quite a lot of the time, we’re in houses story, because we go in and we find all these books and memorabilia and families and stories of the family and the history. And for us. Yes, the high net worth is fantastic. But it’s the story, the relationship of the family. And we enjoy that as much as finding the as the high end items. I know, people will always come back to that. But there’s a story in every family. And quite often, we’re very privileged to be in there and sorting it out and saving it for the family and organise it. Because quite often, the family might not be live anywhere in Europe or might be in a foreign country. So it’s our job to actually go through it all. And find all the family artefacts and put it all together and save it. Some of that quite a lot. That’s very exciting, but sometimes a little bit, okay, because you never know what you’re going to find. So that is a SWOT some of the fun of the business, I must say. But I
would imagine the most rewarding part of the business is actually solving people’s problems and making them happy. At the end,
I have to say at the end of the day, is once you’ve done a project, you’ve solved the problems, at the end of the day, they can say thank you very much. And for me, we would use you again, that if I if I hear that, that’s all I want to hear. Because I know we’ve done a good job, the team are happy, I’m happy. And I think it’s a funny thing. England doesn’t do customer service very well. Doesn’t. America does, and I live there. And I believe customer service is really important. I’m on this video, and I’m sharing this with you. And it’s almost a bit like promoting myself. But it’s not it’s a lost art. Customer Service does not exist in this country. And is really important. And for me, it is important to help the client all through all aspects. If it doesn’t work, I get really annoyed, because it must be perfect for the client. I was about that. And that is important. It runs through the business. So customer service, taking care of the client. We’re not perfect. We do make the mistake. But the key is, if there’s a problem, any problem is solvable. You solve it, you move on. And that’s how I like to run the business.
Customer service actually brings a human element to a relationship. And I think when you bring a human element to a relationship, it runs more smoothly for everybody. So as you said earlier, you know, you you you deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. Ben just communicated and actually people ended up being much happier at the end of it. Great. Well, thank you very much for joining us today. And I think it’s important for our listeners to understand the types of services that are available to them when they’re struggling with some of their challenges when it comes to moving home. So very grateful for your conversation with us, Andrew,
it’s been a pleasure chatting with you. Thank you.
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“ I can come into a property and I can assess the good, the bad and the ugly. By walking through it, I know the right people to bring in and I know where those things will to be sold to maximise the profits for the estate.
We start at the very top with the high net worth items all the way to the very bottom. Some items can go to the high-end auction, some to the secondary auction, the third auction and charities.”