Modern Masters: Andy McVinish

Select Consignment Director Andrew McVinish joins EBTH with nearly 30 years of experience as a fine art auctioneer and European furniture expert, and a love for the thrill of the hunt. It was the latter that led to his discovery of EBTH where, as a bidder, he pored over pages with an auctioneer’s eye. “What I love about EBTH is that it’s a level playing field because everything starts at a dollar,” he says. “So it was fun for me to look at lots of objects and then work out what’s worth chasing.” McVinish spent several decades at Christie’s, working in the Australia, London and New York offices, and specializing in decorative arts, furniture and Private Collection sales. He acted as an auctioneer in a number of high profile auctions, including the Collection HRH, The Princess Margaret and The Collection of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. In New York, he established the Private and Iconic Collections department where he conducted sales including Steve Jobs’ Ricketts Apple-1 Personal Computer, the Private Collection of Joan Rivers, and The Private Collection of President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan.

“I think I’ve probably spent most of my time specializing in not specializing,” notes McVinish, who counts deep knowledge of silver, sculpture, painting and European furniture among several areas of expertise. “I think what you learn over time is that you need an eye and the ability to sniff something out that has potential. You use your skills to try to prove that your hunch is right.” As an EBTH bidder, anything from a Chinese tea caddy to a marble Joseph Mozier bust could hold McVinish rapt. Now wielding his talent on the curation side of EBTH, the auctioneer will be assessing top pieces for Select Sales and “Is looking forward to helping people solve the eternal problem of having too much kit by selling with EBTH.”

Modern Masters: Andy McVinish
Modern Masters: Andy McVinish
Modern Masters: Andy McVinish

When you were an EBTH bidder, what was your strategy?

I usually go through pages, following items that catch my eye. But even though I’m very visual, I was taught thirty years ago when not everything in a catalog was photographed — so you would paint the picture with words. For that reason I also use keywords. Mine are: antique, portrait, silver, British, porcelain, vintage, decanter, table lamp, Chinese.

How would you describe your personal aesthetic?

I’ve never been disciplined enough to collect one thing. I have a bit of a country house aesthetic — as in, someone went on a grand tour and collected objects from their travels. Nothing is restored and everything is the way we found it. My philosophy is: the interior is never done, it always changes.

Tell us a good bidding story.

I once bid on a male portrait, and then several days later, a matching female portrait turned up! It had been catalogued separately, but I saw that it had the same hand, measurements and frame. I placed a bid on the female portrait too, but then got busy and forgot about both. I had left a max bid on the male portrait, and I won that, but then remembered the female one when there were 30 seconds left in the sale! I frantically placed a bid that extended the auction for about another 15 minutes. Because I had the male portrait, I just had to get the matching one!

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