When Art & Antiques Cause a Bloody Nose

You never know what’s going to set off a family fight in the world of art, antiques and collectibles. In the case of the Krebs clan, it began with a three-scoop, chocolate ice-cream cone.

The Krebs family settled in our area of Maryland in the 1700s. It has many members with quite a few successful farmers. Back in the 1970s, one of them operated an antiques shop and homemade ice-cream store. Such stores were few and far apart, and people drove as many as 50 miles for their banana splits, shakes and cones.

The wife of the antiques shop/ice-cream store owner was an amateur artist who painted landscapes that she would sell in the shop. Her paintings were good, and some of them were given an “old” look. They were displayed on a table with a sign identifying the wife as the artist.

One summer afternoon, one of the owner’s brothers stopped by and ordered a chocolate cone—three scoops, the ice cream was that good. While enjoying his treat, the brother wandered into the antiques shop to browse. He looked at the horse harnesses, bridles and halters that were used by farmers some 50 years back. He examined the old hand tools. All of a sudden, two very old paintings caught his attention. They were very well priced, and he knew he must have them in his parlor. Unbeknown to all concerned, the antiques shop clerk had removed the sign identifying the artist in order to dust the table and forgot to replace it.

The brother purchased the two paintings and proudly displayed them where he had envisioned them in his parlor. He showed all his visitors the paintings and gleefully told them how his brother had underpriced such quality art.

There came a time when the antiques owner and his wife visited the brother. The brother couldn’t help smirking about his good-quality old paintings and how cheaply he had gotten them. The dealer’s wife couldn’t help thanking her brother-in-law for buying and displaying her art in such a grand manner. After a bloody nose, peace was declared, and the paintings were returned to the dealer.

Nowadays, a Worthologist from WorthPoint can identify the value of paintings thereby eliminating the need to punch a relative.

– Jim Sturgill is a director of WorthPoint and founding partner of Sturgill & Associates LLP, a DC and Baltimore area CPA firm.


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