Wanted editor-in-chief Sarah Buitendach.
Wanted editor-in-chief Sarah Buitendach.
Image: Simz Mkhwanazi

Ed's letter | Money for nothin'

I’m really an 85-year-old — and have been since I was a child — so logic dictates that I have always been a huge fan of settling in to watch a good BBC series like Call the Midwife, Grand Designs, or Antiques Roadshow.

The latter is a particular favourite. If you’ve never seen this deeply soporific and fascinating British gem (which has been going since 1979), you need to know some basics. On each episode, members of the public bring along something they’d like to have valued or reviewed by a host of specialists — antique gurus, historians, art experts, and so on. Usually the Roadshow know-it-alls just impart some kind of new information about the unusual objet — which Victorian silversmith actually made the plate, why the Indonesian carving is interesting, what the weird box was actually used for. They give a loose valuation, often fairly decent, and off the person goes. Every now and again, though, something outrageous happens. But this is Britain, so this is how outrageous goes down:

Antiques Roadshow expert: And what do we have here today?

Member of the public: This is a costume-jewellery brooch with this huge stone. My great-granny gave it to my mom. I know it isn’t real, I just love it and want to know what the name on the back means.

Antiques Roadshow expert: Well, I have been waiting my entire career to see something like this. What we have here is probably the biggest Ceylon sapphire ever mined. The last one to sell went for £17-million. This one is bigger and of infinitely better quality.

Member of the public: Gosh, that is interesting. I think this calls for a cup of tea.

For the record, were that me with my newfound bling, I’d not be drinking tea. I would be screaming and swearing on national TV. And I’d be flying you all over to London for an opskop at Annabel’s.

March 2020: The Money Issue.
March 2020: The Money Issue.
Image: Judd Van Rensburg

But it isn’t, so I’m just going to have to live in hope. That one day I’ll discover that something I inherited has a surprise value, or that a tiny artwork I bought in a secondhand store turns out to be by a famous artist. The latter I saw on Antiques Roadshow many years ago. A painting bought for a couple of pounds turned out to be by the celebrated Scottish artist Jack Vettriano. In 2005 (when I watched the episode), it was valued at the £20,000 mark.

Speaking of Vettriano, you’d better read the Financial Mail’s money editor Giulietta Talevi’s piece on alternative investments. She chatted to Everard Read’s chairman Mark Read about investing in art, and there’s another tale of the painter there too.

Buying the right art at the right time is getting lucky; putting your money into a too-good-to-be-true Ponzi scheme, not so much. But as the Financial Mail’s editor Rob Rose points out on, lots of very smart and rich South Africans have done some really naïve things with their wealth over the years.

In fact, because this issue is very money-related, we’ve worked closely with members of the FM team — including Shaun Uthum, who’s known for the mag’s cracking cover designs. He created the magic on Rob’s piece in the mag too. The FM is our much-loved sibling title, and one I also work on. This issue is a great example of our pooled talents — their heads for business, our cool and style.

They know how to make the money. We know how to spend it.

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