Prestigious auction house Dreweatt’s made sure their last sale of the season was one to remember, with a special sale of contents from John Hobbs Fine Art Ltd. John Hobbs’ antique desks and early Victorian dining chairs , as Preston dealers will know, became national news following a searing Sunday Times report casting doubts on their authenticity, two years ago.
To most people in Preston, the antique desks and Georgian bookcases in John Hobbs’ prestigious shop in Pimlico, London, were an unattainable dream. He built a reputation dealing in antique furniture of exquisite craftsmanship, which he regularly sold for six figure sums to an elite client base. Buyers are reported to have included Steven Spielberg, Tony Ingrao, Cindy Crawford and members of the Getty family.
Hobbs’ success was not down solely to high quality antiques. He also had a sideline in reconstructed, embellished furniture built from cheaply sourced, salvaged antiques. The “John Hobbs style” was largely down to the work of one man – his furniture restorer Dennis Buggins, with whom he worked for over twenty years.
Buggins is a master craftsman whose work is almost impossible to tell from the originals – though he has never tried to fraudulently profit from this. However, following bitter financial wranglings in 2008, he made the damning accusation that many antiques sold by Hobbs as genuine were actually fakes created by him. Although no police action ensued, the resultant court case left Hobbs with £1m in costs – partly realised by the sale at Dreweatt’s.
When buying Victorian dining chairs or antique desks in Preston , be sure to look for antique dealers who are members of BADA (the British Association Of Antique Dealers). Predictably, John Hobbs membership is obsolete.
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