If you tuned in to the July 10, 2010 episode of “Antiques Roadshow” you might have wondered why a woman brought in a bent wire clothes hanger that she’d hung some guitar picks off of. Well, philistine, you should know that is art. Very expensive and famous art, it turns out.
The owner explained that her family had acquired the piece from the artist, Alexander Calder himself. “My aunt and uncle were having a cocktail party, and Calder was visiting friends of theirs who were invited to the party, so they took Calder along.” This is a good point to remind you that if you don’t know any famous artists personally, move to the next degree of separation and ask if your friends do. Work those connections. Anyway, she continued, “And my aunt was very creative, and among other things, she had done a needlepoint pillow of one of Calder’s works. And he was astounded. He’d never seen one like that before. And so she gave it to him, and a couple of days later, somebody appeared at the doorway, and he had given her this mobile as a thank-you for the pillow.”
The appraiser gave the mobile a wide estimate of $400,000 to $1 million, with the low end being an auction value and the million mark being a retail price. While the owner was, of course, shocked and excited, she also immediately thought of the issue that many parents with pricey and/or sentimental heirlooms realize they have: “Oh! My problem is, I’ve got one mobile and two children.”