A Collector With A One Track Mind

lionel-trains1

After 50 years of collecting toy trains, Jerry Greene has amassed a collection of over 40,000 pieces, worth tens of millions of dollars, and has a ticket to ride….

 

One look at this collection would convince anyone that there is such a thing as a collecting gene, and that Jerry Green inherited it.

When Green decided to sell the collection, at Sotheby’s in New York, it took his entire family three weeks to unpack and arrange what was on display at the auctioneers.

David Redden, vice chairman of Sotheby's, believes it's the biggest train collection in the world.

Green admits he’s an “obsessive collector.” He says he has more than 1,700 locomotives and cars, 700 stations, and thousands of accessories.

"In cataloguing the collection, I came up with 27,000 different items," he said.

Green decided to sell the collection because he ran out of good pieces to buy.

So how much is it worth? Here's a hint . . .

Green described one station that sold at auction for a six-figure sum: "I know of two other copies of this station that exist; a German collector has one, and one recently sold for $140,000."

And that's just one station. Sotheby's intends to sell everything . . . to a single buyer.

"I have some inkling that it could fetch well into eight figures," Redden said. “Well above ten million."

What happens to a collector when they have nothing left to collect? For Jerry Green, he’s "been there, done that." He's ready to move on. "I definitely will collect something else," Green said.


" I'm a collector."  "I would have to. That's the fun."

 

Do you have a major treasure on your hands? A historical relic? An antique car? A gown worn by a top celebrity? A baseball thrown by a hall of famer? A sketch by a famous artist? Or maybe just an old, obscure item that feels like it could be really valuable that you would like to see on TV? Reality TV-land beckons! Tell me about your wondrous, unusual, forgotten and famous treasure by emailing me at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 


 

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The People's Princess Still Rules

 

princessdianadressjpg-83a6a6e93b9e9db0

It's been more than 13 years since Princess Diana's death, but an exhibit featuring items from her life is now on display in Grand Rapids, Michigan until February 16, 2011.

 

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is currently home to "Diana - A Celebration," a rare look into the life of Diana Spencer from childhood until her death. Grand Rapids is just one of the few cities in the U.S. to obtain such an exhibit, and its drawing crowds from all over.

 

That 1981 wedding to Prince Charles was one of the most-watched television events in history with an equally famous dress to match, created by the Emmanuals, a little known designer from Britain. That dress is on full display at the museum, hand-embroidered with more than 10,000 pearls.  What I found amazing was to see the entire 25 foot train.

 

The wedding room is just one of many at the museum. There's a room showing videos of Diana's childhood and displaying some of her toys and personal family photos and albums.

 

Of the items in the tribute room are the lyrics for "Candle in the Wind" that Sir Elton John re-wrote after Diana's death in 1997. The song was originally written for Marilyn Monroe.

 

A condolence room houses just a small section of the hundreds of thousands of sympathy notes and books sent to Diana's family after her death; but it's the design gallery that really shows Diana's style and sense of fashion.

 

Also on display are family jewels that go back hundreds of years which have been passed down through the generations. One of the crowns dates back to 1840 and is almost entirely comprised of diamonds. It is just one of the many priceless jewels on display.

 

Over 50,000 attendees of this exhibit in Grand Rapids prove that, indeed, "The People's Princess" still reigns in our hearts and memories.

 

 

 

 


 

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Caroline Ashleigh Kicks Off 2011 Lecture and Appraisal Tour

 




Caroline Ashleigh is among the Who’s Who of top professional speakers and appraisers in the art and antiques business.
Caroline Ashleigh, PBS and HG-TV personality and appraiser, kicked off her 2010/11 appraisal and lecture tour at the Grand Rapids Rotary Antique Show this winter at the Delta Plex Arena and Conference Center. Appraisals and book signings were provided at this popular event.


Ms. Ashleigh is among the Who’s Who of top professional speakers and appraisers in the art and antiques business. She is a nationally known expert who is a proven hit behind the podium and adept at interacting with audiences of all sizes. She knows what it’s worth, and shares that knowledge on her appraisal and lecture tour, by customizing her presentation to meet each audience’s specific needs.


The Michigan native is the founder of Caroline Ashleigh Appraisers and Auctioneers, a firm that provides appraisal and auction services throughout the United States, and has been a consultant for several large auction houses including Sotheby’s. She also appeared on the PBS program Antiques Roadshow since 1996, and as an art expert on HG-TV, and is a contributing author to the Roadshow Collectibles Primer and Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, as well as three other books. Ashleigh is a USPAP, board certified, member of the Appraisers Association of America.


To schedule a lecture and/or an appraisal event, call 248-792-2929, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 


 

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When Life Gives You Lint - Here's What To Do

 

Last_Supper

Laura Bell of Roscommon, Michigan used lint from her dryer to make a 14' by 4' reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper.

 

 

The AP reports:

Bell says she needed about 800 hours to do enough laundry to get the lint, and 200 hours to recreate the mural. She bought towels of the colors she wanted and laundered them separately to get the right shades of lint.

 

The people at Ripley's Believe It Or Not! were so impressed they bought it for their collection. According to their press release, Bell started her masterpiece in 2009 and it took some experimenting to get it just right:

 

Bell says she spent seven months saving the lint from her own dryer, but the problem was it was usually the same color. She tried laundromat lint, but it was always shades of gray and full of dog hair.

 

She took on this project to enter into a Grand Rapids art contest called Art Prize. The lure of the grand prize — $250,000 — kept her going through the months. (See my former blog post: The Numbers Are In And Art Prize Wins)

 

Sadly, she lost, but says she learned a lot about herself in the process of the making this piece. "I learned that I do have great patience," she said. Just as Philip the Apostle, she spent 40 to 50 hours and she had to wait a long time to find towels that were just the right color orange.

 

Bell is not an artist, she's quick to note. She's a home health aid. Her kids, she said, thought she was crazy when she started doing this, but then as the piece started to come together, they became 'believers.'

 

In my fifteen years as an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow, I saw my fair share of unusual items, but "lint art paintings" were not among them. 

 

But, wait - come to think about it, I believe someone did a portrait of Johnny Carson in belly button lint. Ripley's, if you are wondering, has several other "lint art paintings"  - I wonder if that masterpiece is also among them and, if so, any guesses how much it's worth?

 

Do you have a major treasure on your hands? A historical relic? An antique car? A gown worn by a top celebrity? A baseball thrown by a hall of famer? A sketch by a famous artist? Or maybe just an old, obscure item that feels like it could be really valuable that you would like to see on TV? Reality TV-land beckons! Tell me about your wondrous, unusual, forgotten and famous treasure by emailing me at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

 


 

carolineJoin us on facebook and twitter-logo
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Do It Yourself Art Restoration? Don't!

ConservationBread, garlic, onions and potatoes may sound yummy if you're hungry, but some people believe that they can clean works of art with them. Here is their reasoning: each of these foods has moisture in them to pick up water-soluble dirt without getting the painting wet. However, these foods also leave behind bacterial residue, which eats away at both the paint and the canvas.

Here are a number of other bits of kitchen wizardry about how (not) to care for one's art collection:

Some people believe that one may clean an oil painting with soap and warm water. Soap generally can damage the paint or diminish the colors. The water will likely seep through the cracks, which oil paint inevitably develops, and go all the way back to the canvas. The water then makes the canvas expand, then contract, as it dries, and this process loosens the bond between the paint and the canvas, which may result in the paint flaking off.

Another technique that many artists, like Van Gogh, have used with their drawings and prints is to pour milk on them. "Milk has casein as its base, which is an adhesive," said Lucy Belloli, a conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. "The milk fixes the ink or pencil on the paper and makes the colors more intense. The only problem with it is that milk becomes brittle in time and the paper, which is more flexible and will expand and contract, which damages the milk coating."

“You can't just decide to clean or repair a work of art and think that you don't need any professional help. People like myself are trained for many years to know what to do and how it should be done" remarked Perry Huston, art conservator in Houston, Texas

Other conservators also complain about customers bringing paintings to them that had been treated by their owners with cold crème, linseed oil, poppy seed oil, sesame seed oil, even motor oil -- substances that often stick to the painting and make them almost impossible to clean in the future. Note to self: one cannot remoisturize oil paint.

Another seemingly logical but destructive cleaning method is vacuuming, which will suck dirt off the canvas, but may also make an indentation in the canvas, and can also pull off loose bits of paint.

The history of conservation and restoration is filled with tales of disaster and folly.  For art buyers, the less restoration that has taken place with a work, the higher the price is likely to be. Conservators are more careful now, not wanting to do anything that cannot be undone by the next conservator. Today's horror stories are largely due to art owners who believe that they don't need conservators and can fix very subtle and complex problems by themselves. The more money they try to save, the more they will have to pay later when the work needs to be repaired.

Eventually, it may all come back to haunt them when the objects start falling apart. There's no substitute for the kind of care that a conservator can provide. The following is a list of Conservation Institutes in the United States:

 

For examination, documentation, treatment & preventative care of artworks, and expert conservation and restoration referrals, please email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

 

 

 


 

carolineJoin us on facebook and twitter-logo
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Welcome to Reality TV in Detroit City

 

If you haven't figured out by now, I'm fascinated with reality TV shows that feature buying and selling of art and antiques, from reluctant estate sellers, to hard core pawn brokers. Especially ones in Detroit, Michigan. This business is known to be tough, but running one in Detroit can be even tougher. So, I'm excited to blog about two new shows -  truTV's Hard Core Pawn which debuted on Tuesday, December 28 at 10pm/9c, and HG-TV's Cash & Cari which debuts on Monday, January 3 at 10pm/9c

 

As owners of Detroit's biggest pawn shop, the Gold family have bought and sold things you can't begin to imagine. Every day brings new danger as the Golds operate in the heart of one of America's most troubled ciities.  There is money to be made, but their profits come with huge risk. Welcome to the world of Hard Core Pawn.

 

In the premier episode of HG-TV's Cash & Cari  entitled, The Reluctant Estate Seller, a life-long collector sells his prized possessions, and my friend, Cari, sets up a huge estate sale. But will she convince the reluctant seller to part with his 1946 Harley and an entire room full of vintage lunch boxes?  Be sure to tune in on Monday, January 3rd, at 10:00 pm/9c to find out!

 

Do you have a major treasure on your hands? A historical relic? An antique car? A gown worn by a top celebrity? A baseball thrown by a hall of famer? A sketch by a famous artist? Or maybe just an old, obscure item that feels like it could be really valuable that you would like to see on TV? Reality TV-land beckons! Tell me about your wondrous, unusual, forgotten and famous treasure by emailing me at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 


 

carolineJoin us on facebook and twitter-logo
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Art Market Trends & Predictions for 2011

 

Joan_Mitchell

TRENDS: The Art Market Continued Its Gender Bias Trend in 2010


Female artists in the art market continue their shy presence in 2010. No top single female artist has exceeded 100 mln to date. And only few of the top 10 female artists saw any auction trading volume at all this past year (2010).

 

At the top of that list is Joan Mitchell, who has now firmly overtaken Cassatt as the world's most valuable female artist.

 

PREDICTIONS: Art Market Predictions for 2011

 

Expect a surge in trading volume and prices in vintage photographic prints by iconic photographers/artists in 2011

 

 

 


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Art Market Predictions for 2011

Andy_WarholAndy_WarholAndy_WarholAndy_Warhol

 

According to analysis of art market research, Warhol will overtake Monet as the world's second most valuable artist in 2011.

 

It is very likely that Warhol will not only pass the 1.5 bln mark, but will also overtake Monet, thus making him the most valuable artist based on aggregate auction prices after Picasso.

 

Stayed tuned for more of my art market predictions for 2011 in my continuing blogs.

 

 


 

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This Isn't Your Grandmother's Antiquing...

 

Pickers

 

AMERICAN PICKERS is produced for HISTORY by Cineflix Productions  Official Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/AmericanPickers  Official site: http://www.history.com/shows/american-pickers Promo Clip: "http://www.youtube.com/v/Jd_UArPMTUU?hl=en&fs=1


Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are once again searching the back roads, junkyards, and filled-to-the-brim barns in America for “rusty gold.” AMERICAN PICKERS, the #1 new cable series of 2010, returns for new episodes of its second season in December 2010.  

 

Part sleuths, part antiques experts, and part cultural historians – Mike and Frank’s adventures bring them to small towns across the country in search of weird and wonderful Americana. Each treasure hunt leads them to fascinating, quirky characters – everyday people with stories that open a window onto American life.

 

As professional “pickers,” these childhood buddies comb through memorabilia and artifacts, hoping to find treasures among the trash. Sometimes they make a few bucks; and sometimes they walk away with little more than the history of an item.

 

“We’re caretakers of treasures and the stories behind them,” says Mike. Traveling along with the duo, viewers will meet an assortment of American originals and watch as a patchwork of history unfolds – one treasure at a time.

 

In honor of the new episodes, I am giving away two CD's of the complete episodes of season one. To become eligible, please post a comment on my blog together with your email address.

 

Do you have a major treasure on your hands? A historical relic? An antique car? A gown worn by a top celebrity? A baseball thrown by a hall of famer? A sketch by a famous artist? Or maybe just an old, obscure item that feels like it could be really valuable that you would like to see on TV? Reality TV-land beckons! Tell me about your wondrous, unusual, forgotten and famous treasure: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 


 


 

carolineJoin us on facebook and twitter-logo
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The Eyes Have It: More Mystery Unfolds in the Mona Lisa

 


Mona_Lisa

Did Dan Brown Have It Right After All?

London, Dec 13 The Mona Lisa painting continues to throw up mysteries, as art experts now claim to have found a set of tiny letters painted into the eyes of the woman in the Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece.

 

The experts - from Italy's National Cultural Heritage committee - discovered the mysterious hidden message while studying magnified images of the 500-year-old portrait.

 

'In the right eye appears to be the letters LV, which could well stand for his name. In the left eye, there are also symbols. It is difficult to make them out but they appear to be the letters C and E or B,' art historian Silvano Vinceti was quoted as saying by The Sun.

 

'To the naked eye the symbols are not visible but with a magnifying glass they are clearly seen.'

 

'We know Da Vinci used symbols so we are confident that they are a message from him,' he said.

 

The experts also found a 72, or an L and a 2, painted into a bridge in the background of the painting, which is in Paris' Louvre museum.

 

Vinceti said the letters B or S, or possibly the initials CE, were discernible, a vital clue to identifying the model who sat for the Renaissance artist. She has often been named as Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a Florentine merchant, but Vinceti disagreed, claiming Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa in Milan.

 

'On the back of the painting are the numbers '149', with a fourth number erased, suggesting he painted it when he was in Milan in the 1490s, using as a model a woman from the court of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan,' Vinceti said, according to The Guardian.

 

They examined the Mona Lisa after finding a book in an antique shop that claimed there were tiny hidden symbols in the eyes.

 

The question now is, what do they mean?

 

 

 


 

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