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  1. Wealth
March 22, 2010

The collecting bug

By Spear's

I’ve come in at the low end of the market. The very low end. I mean, Sotheby’s wouldn’t sneeze at my picture, but I don’t care: it’s mine.

I’ve come in at the low end of the market. The very low end. I mean, Sotheby’s wouldn’t sneeze at my picture, but I don’t care: it’s mine.

The other weekend I went to the Hampstead Community Centre in expectation of the weekly second-hand book market (god knows I need more books), but it was the monthly antiques fair instead. After perusing cufflinks and vases and candelabra and cigarette cases (I don’t smoke, but they look so chic), I found a gentleman selling pictures.

Most of them were nothing special at all – some twee Victoriana and some prints – but a small picture, A4 size, caught my eye. It was a skull, apparently a rather cheerful one, with labels in Russian pointing out the various anatomical features.

According to the dealer, it is by Elena Kirichenko, a Soviet-approved artist (it has some sort of official stamp on it). Very little is known about her, apart from her dates, that she went to Ukrainian art schools and went on to work in several media. The internet (English and Russian versions) shows little of use.

The picture captured me for no explicable reason. My secondary thought was that it would look tremendous in my bedroom, but interior design was not at the root of this: it is a possession of the mind. You realise that if you don’t buy it, you won’t stop thinking about it; you can know that instantly.

I never believed auction houses when they said that one should only buy for love, not investment – I always felt their motive was quite clear – but having fallen for a picture, I can understand the bond that it creates, and how that can drive some people to spend millions. Mine was £60 (bartered down from £80), but the price is by some considerable way the least of it.

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