17th – 19th centuries
When the opportunity arises, Box House Antiques occasionally offers antique pictures, but no longer as the mainstay of the business. We favour period portraits and landscapes to enhance a wide variety of interiors. Box House Antiques was founded on the buying, selling and restoring of Dutch school antique pictures back in the early 1950s when old pictures were available in abundance. The founder Mrs Leslie Butchart-Maas (married to a Dutchman) had been collecting since before WW2, and soon began working and consulting with the late Sir Anthony Blunt of the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her gallery formed part of her house, a great 'call' for the major London picture trade. Soon a few select items of antique furniture were added to the gallery, and to her surprise these sold very well. Antique furniture took precedence, but an interest in Old Master paintings remained. It was during the 1960s that her son John joined the expanding business. His interest had always been in history so it was a logical and short step for him to take. The business grew very fast in the late 1960s, then on into the 1970s and beyond, until the controversial introduction by the auctioneers of the 'buyer’s premium' in 1975. Soon all the provincial auctioneers joined the bandwagon with the 'premium' rising to 25%-30% today, no doubt with more increases to come. This huge windfall gave the auctioneers enormous advantages which they have not been slow to exploit. Added to this there were high profile media exposés of malpractices by some of the old established auction houses, some CEOs even ending up in prison. All this turmoil brought its share of disrepute to the auction trade for a number of years. Today the antique pictures trade is mainly concentrated in London's W1. A buyer was persuaded recently to part with US$ 400,000,000 for a disputed old master (bought in 1658 for under $100). The auctioneer did rather well in fees (buyer’s premium and other commissions).
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