I got the following message on my website the other day, from a tax consultant in La Jolla:
Hello, We are administering an estate that we believe is in possession
of an original 1943 _______ Painting (among other artists). We
would like to get an indication of the potential value of this piece.
I wrote back a rather terse comment:
So you want some free help and you don't even want to say please. No thanks. Robert
I got a rather nasty message back about how rude I was and that of course they would have been willing to pay but now will be finding somebody else to help them because of my obviously bad attitude. I won't include the followup emails or the name of the person, it is pointless. And perhaps I was a bit harsh.
But honestly there is not a week that goes by where someone doesn't try to milk me for free information and to do research, sometimes extensive, on something they own. Like it is my job here on earth to serve them. And there is rarely a please involved or an offer to pay. They take the newfound knowledge and seek top dollar or send the thing to auction and the person who does the free research is quickly forgotten. Rarely am I ever offered the material in question.
And I am getting sick of it, this getting sucked dry. You wouldn't do it to a doctor, lawyer or even a tax advisor or maybe you would? And honestly, after you do the research for these people I would say you get payment or reciprocation less than ten percent of the time. It is no wonder things get adversarial between dealers and sellers.
You want to benefit from or exploit my knowledge and expertise, ask nicely and don't demand. Maybe even offer me something for my time. It's usually not necessary but it is definitely nice to be asked.