Royal Property: It is known that your grandfather Cyril Butterwick was a director at Sotheby’s for ten years. What chance brought him there?
James Butterwick: My grandfather used to teach classics at the famous Eton College in the UK. One day he forgot to take along the copy of the poem by J. Milton “Paradise Lost” for his lesson and had to hurriedly buy one at the college store for 6 pence. The brochure turned out to be a first edition from 1669, one of fewer than 20 existing copies. Interestingly enough, after a long search for the owner, who was never found, the book came into my possession and I sold it for £10,000 — which is comparable with that story of Caravaggio’s painting worth of 120 million Euros, which had been found at the village house’s attic in France. My grandfather was always buying and selling antiques but in the 1950s he was invited as an expert to Sotheby’s and had the reputation of the best English silver expert in the world.
Royal Property: How did the auction house Sotheby’s come into being and what are its advantages nowadays?
James Butterwick: As a matter of fact, Sotheby’s was founded by a bookseller S. Baker in 1744. From a private club it grew into the world’s largest auction house. Houses, art objects, elite interiors, wines are sold through its branches in all over the world whilst its innovative approach enables it to accept bids on-line. Sotheby’s is a judge and warranty of genius with world-class specialists with many years of experience behind them. The authenticity of paintings is determined not by museum experts, but by market authenticity. In 95% of cases certificates are not acknowledged by Sotheby’s. The real value has always been provenance and exhibition history.
Royal Property: How can Sotheby’s be of interest to owners and real estate investors?
James Butterwick: Well, it is quite easy to find a “dream house” in any catalogue and get in touch with the most famous buyers in the world. To choose between private market and auction market, the advantages are obvious, that is no sanctions, no crisis. It is possible to have kind of assistance from the auction house in creating a catalogue and advertising strategy. I bought a country house through Sotheby’s, it is a guarantee of quality and safety.