He joined Christie’s in 1978 as a 22-year-old simply because he loved antiques. He conducted his first auction in 1984. The journey of more than four decades continues for Hugh Edmeades.
After working with the famed auction house for 38 years, the Briton decided to work as a freelance auctioneer in 2016.
The gavel master is in the city to conduct the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 auction on Thursday. A total number of 332 players will go under the hammer of Edmeades.
Though he uses a hardwood gavel for most auctions, he has a different one for the IPL. “I use a hardwood gavel that my wife Debs found for me when I first became an auctioneer. I use a special one for the IPL, made of brass,” Edmeades told The Telegraph on Wednesday.
“This will be my second IPL auction. Last year was great fun and straight forward. It helps that all eight of the franchise bidders know exactly what they are doing. I am looking forward to a good show on Thursday as well,” he said.
His first cricket-related auction was in 1987 at Lord’s and the occasion was MCC’s Bicentenary. “It was a very big auction. It lasted for 12 hours with six auctioneers involved. And most importantly, many famous cricketers were present there,” he said.
Edmeades has conducted over 2,500 auctions, selling 3,10,000 items for a total in excess of £2.7 million. The property from the estate of HRH Princess Margaret, Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday gala dinner, the 2019 Vivo IPL players and 88 guitars belonging to Eric Clapton are among the high-profile auctions he has conducted.
Other interesting and unusual highlights have included Hubert de Givenchy’s Little Black Dress that Audrey Hepburn, playing Holly Golightly, immortalised in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which sold in December 2006, for £467,000, and Daniel Craig’s Aston Martin DB10 from the 2015 James Bond movie Spectre for £2,434,500 in February 2016.
But he still feels pressure before conducting any auction. “There is always pressure on me, as my vendors are expecting to maximise the value of their objects. In the IPL, the players are relying on me to maximise their value. I study the players, items, the catalogue entries and discuss them with the relevant specialists before any auction,” he said.
The lover of antiques is a big fan of cricket too. He is a huge fan of former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. “I always loved watching Dhoni in action. He is a great cricketer.”
Who is his favourite cricketer? “As an Englishman, I have to say Ben Stokes. I certainly do follow the IPL and cricket in general,” he added.
Asked how many auctions he conducts in a year, Edmeades said: “When I was employed full time with Christie’s, I would conduct over 120 auctions a year, including charity ones.”
His charity work has taken him to over 30 cities, including Dubai, Hong Kong, Casablanca, New York, Mumbai, Monte Carlo, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. He spends his free time playing golf.
Edmeades, however, does not have any idol in his field. “I don’t have any favourite one,” he said.