Joanna Pitman

Yum, yum: love the mousse. But is it art?

Joanna Pitman talks to Ferran Adrià, widely hailed as the world’s greatest chef and named as one of the 100 most influential people on the planet. He doesn’t think he is Picasso Can I interest you in some almond ice cream served on a swirl of garlic oil and balsamic vinegar? Are you game for

The timeless beauty of a Stradivari

How many investments can bring you joy as well as financial gain? Unless pure lucre flows in your veins and you’re the sort of person for whom an excursion into the derivatives market is your greatest pleasure, then there are not many. Wine and art spring to mind, but one relatively under-exploited investment opportunity that

The price of valour and the value of money

Our gallant armed forces who face the daily horrors of Iraq and Afghanistan are often said to be undervalued by the public. But at least in the narrow financial sense, that cannot be said of historic acts of bravery and devotion to duty and the medals that commemorate them. Have you ever looked to see

Rare stamps in a class of their own

Stamps, it is said, are the most valuable commodity on earth by weight. An 1868 Benjamin Franklin stamp, for example — a standard-sized stamp weighing a fraction of a fraction of a gram — was bought recently for $2.97 million by an American investor. So the claim may well be true. Rare and desirable stamps,

A paradise for bookworms

Imagine coming across a book that has lain untouched for 100 years, and making an unexpected historical discovery. Ed Maggs, an antiquarian bookseller, had just such a thrill recently. ‘I was reading the epistolary diaries of a rather eccentric Victorian called Cuthbert Bede. I became strangely fixated by the story of this man who was

A frenzy for Chinese art

The great China investment boom has many facets. A fortnight ago at a Sotheby’s sale in Hong Kong of Chinese works of art, wealthy mainland collectors and their representatives became so excitable during the bidding that along with the rest of the audience they ended up splurging almost £30 million. Historical works of art from

Auctioneer by appointment to the world’s new rich

In 1987, shortly after joining Christie’s auction house in London as a 23-year-old English Literature graduate from Oxford, Jussi Pylkkanen nervously approached the head of the Impressionists department, James Roundell, and asked if he could transfer to his team. ‘He was a kind of god in the company. He’d just sold Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” to

Antiques: better value than Ikea

Not many people seem to realise this, but it’s cheaper in the long run to buy a solid carved mahogany antique chest of drawers than a modern pine one from Ikea. Without having to search far, you can get a beautiful Victorian chest of drawers in excellent condition for £200 which will last you and

Plafonniers and station platforms

Christmas is almost upon us and you still haven’t sorted out that significant present for the woman in your life who has everything. And there’s the rub. She already has the jewels, the houses, the horses, the cars, the shoes and furs and more cashmere dressing gowns than she could possibly ever want. Knowing the

Flawless, timeless, almost priceless

White diamonds are the world’s most expensive gems. White diamonds are the world’s most expensive gems. The ideal stone is like a piece of ice, whiter than white, graded ‘D’, the purest possible grading, and cut with exquisite precision. Only a handful exist. Ten years ago a pure white, pear-shaped 100.10 carat diamond (pictured here),

Bear market strategies

Ever thought of investing in teddy bears? Before you collapse in a fit of laughter, consider the fortunate person who found a large Steiff teddy bear abandoned in a skip and took it to Christie’s, where it sold for over £7,000. Or the person who sold a Steiff ‘teddy girl’ to the Yoshihiro Sekiguchi Museum

At last, some good news from Iran: magic carpets

Iran hardly counts as an ‘emerging market’ these days, even for the most adventurous stock-pickers. But there is one Iranian export that appeals to the most sophisticated investors — not oil traders or arms buyers, but those who search for trophies that please the eye as well as making interesting conversational gambits at dinner parties.

An insatiable appetite for art

Never in living memory has there been so much interest in buying art as there is now. Across all categories, from Old Masters to Impressionists to photographs, but mostly in 20th-century paintings, the international appetite for buying art has been steadily building in an art-market bull run that has already lasted 11 years. In the