Interview with William Gregory

29th August 2013

How did you become involved with auctioneering and antiques?

In 1982, I was 17 and looking for a summer job. Auctioneers Thos. Mawer and Son of Lincoln had an opening for a saleroom porter.

On my first day, I was taken to help at a country house sale at Rauceby Hall, Sleaford. I can still remember driving through the gates towards this grand country house, exploring all the rooms and the stables to find antiques and collectables. It was an amazing experience.

At that stage, I was not sure I wanted to be an auctioneer but I was hard working and enthusiastic and was soon given more responsibility in organizing and cataloguing the sales. I joined the Incorporated Society of Auctioneers and Valuers to gain professional qualifications.

When did you specialize in Private Client & Professional Services?

By 1999, I was fully qualified and looking for a new challenge so I left Thos. Mawer and Son to work for another auction house, Capes Dunn, in Manchester.

Here I started working with clients with specialist collections, solicitors and accountants dealing with deceased estates, and helped organize and set up specialist auctions. It was whilst working on these specialist auctions that I began advising private and corporate clients on their art and antiques collections in respect of insurance, acquisition and disposal.

When did you return to Lincoln?

In 2010, Grantham auctioneers Golding Young took over the sale room. Managing director Colin Young was in the process of merging Golding Young and Thos. Mawer & Son together and asked me to run the private client services department. Colin and I already knew each other from our formative years in the business.

What is the most interesting part of your work now?

Working in the art scene at Cape Dunn in Manchester, I met some very successful artists, critics, gallery owners and art lovers and enjoyed organizing Specialist Fine Art auctions. On joining Golding Young & Mawer, I now organize three art auctions a year and I am always fascinated by the process of successfully selling paintings or art objects.

Golding Young & Mawer now sponsor events at the National Centre for Craft and Design, Sleaford, and the Sam Scorer Gallery, Lincoln in order to support the arts in Lincolnshire and the East Midlands.

What's the best piece of advice you could give to someone wanting a career in auctioneering?

To be as thorough as possible because, practicing as an auctioneer, you are the link between the seller and buyer.

Which artist living or dead would you most like to meet?

Damien Hirst because I'd like to congratulate him on his £111 million pound auction sale.

Do you collect any fine art or antiques?

No, I've always wanted to be completely impartial so I never collected myself.

What is the most unusual item you have sold?

I sold a painting and after the sale, the buyer phoned the artist who promptly denied painting it. So I rang the artist and told him the vendor's story of how they had acquired the painting. He then remembered he had actually painted the artwork and apologized. So the most unusual item I have sold is a painting the artist denied painting!

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