Sculpture from Scottish artist expected to sell for £100k - after being drunkenly bought on eBay

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A businessman who bought unique Scottish sculpture on a whim after downing bottle of wine is now set to sell his drunken eBay purchase for £100K.

Gareth Palmer, 62, accidentally bid against himself during a boozy evening to land himself the huge 14ft (4.4m) piece of artwork last October.

The company boss had been browsing the internet when he came across the work called ‘Twisting by the Pool’ by renowned Scots sculptor Malcolm Robertson.

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He began making offers and was shocked when the price rocketed before realising he was using two of his own eBay accounts to bid against himself.

Hansons valuer Karl Martin with the sculpture. Hansons valuer Karl Martin with the sculpture.
Hansons valuer Karl Martin with the sculpture.

Gareth ended up paying under £20,000 but had to spend a further £5,000 transporting the art from Scotland to Derby and an extra £800 for a police escort.

He is now selling the striking stainless-steel structure and reckons it could go for £100,000 when it goes under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers next month.

It was crafted in 1996 after being commissioned to adorn the grounds of a company based in Rosyth, Scotland, which later closed down.

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Gareth, of Derby, who runs a company supplying microduct and pneumatic connectors, said: “It was bought by a Scottish blacksmith in 2001 and he kept it in his yard for many years.

“He eventually decided to sell and it ended up on eBay. I spotted it and must admit I’d drank a bottle-and-a-bit of wine when I started bidding. The price kept going up and I thought I’d been outbid. Then I realised I was bidding against myself.

“I have two eBay accounts, one on my iPad and one on my iPhone. I eventually outbid myself and won it. I realised it was an important sculpture. My research led me to Malcolm Robertson’s website.

“He’s a multiple-award-winning sculptor with a broad portfolio of work dotted around the UK and abroad. His work is held in private collections and several sculptures are in Florida in the Unites States.

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“I understand this is the first time one of his sculptures has become available to buy at a traditional auction.

“He’s so highly regarded he is always commissioned. I’m also told that Twisting by the pool originally cost £70,000 when it was made 26 years ago.

“I paid under £20,000 and it cost me around £5,500 to get it transported from Scotland to Derbyshire. There was one failed collection attempt because I was told it was four metres high. It turned out to be 4.4m and the lorry couldn’t get it under a low bridge. That cost me £600.

“It also ended up with a police escort which cost another £800. Eventually I got the artwork to Derbyshire and it’s been stored at a builder’s yard in Shardlow ever since.

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“It’s been hidden away for 20 years but it deserves to be seen and on public display, so I’ve decided to sell it. It’s going to auction with an estimate of £20,000-£30,000 but I think it’s worth £100,000.

“You couldn’t even make it today for £20,000. Plus, it is a unique work of art by a respected sculptor.

“I’m hoping for a Del-Boy-moment at the auction where you’ll see me fall over backwards with shock as the hammer falls. That’s what I want.”

Karl Martin, valuer at Hansons, said: “It’s an incredibly impressive work of art and, as Gareth says, deserves to be on public display.

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“It’s currently standing tall outside Hansons’ Derbyshire saleroom in Etwall so, if you’re passing, do take a look.

“Robertson uses surreal imagery to create art which is visually striking and unusual.

“He’s been heavily involved in creating public artworks during his career so it would be fitting if an art connoisseur gave it a new home where people could see and appreciate it.”

Robertson graduated in sculpture at Glasgow School of Art in 1974 and was awarded a teaching diploma by Jordanhill College of Education in 1975.

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After three years spent working as an art teacher in Argyll, he went on to win international recognition for his work as Town Artist at Glenrothes, Scotland, from 1978-1990.

He liaised with the planning department to create site-specific sculpture, artworks and murals.

He established a professional practice in 1991 and has an extensive portfolio of sculptures and artworks in the UK, Germany, India and the USA.

Twisting by the Pool will be sold by Hansons Auctioneers, based in Etwall, Derbys., on September 27.

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