LOST AND FOUND! – 10/10/2010November 16, 2011
LOST ART FOUND 15 YEARS LATER
Living in Maine in the mid 80’s I had been inspired to carve two merganser ducks after a visit to the shore and seeing them playing in the springtime ritual of mating dances on water.
I had a 4 foot long piece of redwood lace burl that had been sent to me from California. I made the most of that piece of wood and within it found two swimming mergansers. Thus came to be THE MERGANSERS.
Years later the request was made to me to send a sculpture to Great Britain for the 1996 International Wildlife Art Auction at Christie’s South Kensington. With much enthusiasm I made the arrangements with Christie’s and THE MERGANSERS was selected to go to the auction. It went to the UK, paid for by me, the artist.
The auction occurred, I was sent one of the catalogues and the piece did not sell. Damn, what to do with it now! As life’s unusual events transpired, I was asked by a friend and exceptional British painter of wildlife, Alan Hunt, if I would like to have him take it to the gallery that he showed in, The Halcyon Gallery. I said yes that sounded like a great idea, as I had no representation in the UK and with artist associates that I knew there I felt it could be a good thing to introduce myself to the British audience. I loved British Comedy and so I thought maybe they would like my art! This was a kind request of Alan and got me out of having to ship it right back to the US.
I gave him consent to take it to Halcyon. Well, at that time in my life I was going though some ‘crap’ as it can justly be called now, looking back and I did not put my total attention on this event in the UK. I did not do the proper follow up work with calls and paper trails and signatures of those involved. Somehow, somewhere and by someone the sculpture fell into a hole. No one knew of where it went. I thought it was simply gone, vanished and someone must have removed it from the gallery. Nobody knew what happened and no one could come up with the piece. It was not possible for me to go the London to look for it, and I did try to have Alan and others see if they could find out anything…..but nothing! It remained that way for years and finally I simply forgot about it and figured that I would never know of se that piece of art again. One day when going through my files I threw out most of the papers about trying to locate the piece and any correspondence that I did have with Halcyon Gallery. I kept the catalogue and the paperwork from Christie’s showing that the piece was in fact in that auction. All that I could do was to accept the fact that the piece was going, going, gone.
On October 9th, 2010 I received an email from a gentleman in London, a Mr. Dykes who sent with the email a picture of yes, THE MERGANSERS. Fifteen years later from going into a black hole the piece resurfaced at a little auction house in South London. This man Mr. Dykes loves wood and when he saw the piece at auction he bought it. Not until taking it home and looking closely did he see my signature and looked me up on the www and contacted me. I could not believe it! When I wrote him and told him the story, he could not believe that he had it too.
This sculpture had gone to auction in 1996 for $5000 and Mr. Dykes has not told me how little he must have paid for the piece today in 2010. In my letter of authenticity to him I quoted the current value of what that piece should be insured for and it is now $20,000.
No one knows where the piece was for these 15 years. I have currently contacted Halcyon Gallery and they definitely have NO record of any work by Leo E. Osborne ever being on their inventories. It is a mystery and I may never know what it did for all those years! These original sculptures are sneaky little things, like Tom Robbins writing about inanimate objects taking on a life of their own, I believe that sometimes happens with my original works when they go away and especially in this case where the piece was sent abroad and just wanted to have some fun for awhile! Oh well Mr. and Mrs. Dykes, you better keep a close eye on THE MERGANSERS for they can swim at whim!
The lost art is found, but once again the artist gets stiffed….But life still goes on and I keep creating…….
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