Boston-based fine art and antiques expert Colleene Fesko
, frequently seen on the hit PBS television series Antiques Roadshow, celebrates her third year as an independent appraiser and consultant. After more than two decades at Skinner Auctioneers and Appraisers, Fesko launched her appraisal firm in 2010, and has been in high demand for personal appearances, curatorial consulting and estate brokering since.
In 2013, Fesko is being featured in a number of episodes of Antiques Roadshows 17th season, and two of her appraisals are already predicted to be season highlights. On January 7, an episode filmed in Corpus Christi, Texas featured Fesko identifying a lost oil painting by artist Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1888-1957). Brought to the show by a local resident, the 1904 work, "El Albanil," is appraised by Fesko at $800,000 to $1 million, the highest appraisal of the Roadshow season.
Fesko appears next on the January 28th episode of the show, filmed in her hometown of Boston with 5-term Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The mayor brought to the show a painting the city had discovered in the attic of Dorchester's Mather Elementary School a Vermont winter landscape by artist Aldro T. Hibbard. Fesko, accompanied on set by the Mayor, appraised the quintessential Hibbard at $50,000. During the Boston show, Fesko and Roadshow host Mark Walberg also visited the Boston Public Library where Fesko appraised original sketches for the award winning children's book Make Way for Ducklings. "The author, Robert McCloskey donated the sketchbooks to the library and it was fascinating see how he developed the story, comments Fesko. I think the audience also will also enjoy some rediscovered duckling lore we uncovered while working on the segment."
In addition to her appearances on Antiques Roadshow, Fesko has served as a consultant for Christie's American Painting Department and for Doyle New York's recently opened Boston location. She has also conducted appraisals throughout New England for individuals and for several municipal and corporate collections.
"The last three years since launching my independent appraisal firm have been very gratifying," Fesko says with a smile. "I am busier than ever, and enjoying every minute of it."
Still, appraising fine art and antiques is only one facet of her new role as an independent consultant. Public speaking, guest auctioneering for non-profit fundraisers, brokering estates, writing and curatorial consulting also claim a share of her time. Her years of experience, her knowledge of the fine art and antiques market and her international network of resources means she is also sought after frequently as a confidential private broker.
"Ive found that individuals with important works of art or fine antiques to sell take comfort in the privacy and personal attention that only a private consultant can provide," she explains. "It is important that they have confidence in your discretion."
Others looking to sell their collections or those responsible for the estates of artists or collectors benefit from a professional who can guide them through a minefield of auctions, private sales, or placement of artists' estates with galleries. "We rarely undertake a serious legal issue without the help of a lawyer," she notes, "Why wouldn't we want a knowledgeable professional guiding us when tens of thousands or even millions of dollars are at stake?"
Fesko's easy-going charm, ready smile and engaging personality may mask the seriousness of her purpose, but she is laser-like when focused on a project. In 2011, she co-presented the estate collection of works by the expatriate painter Charles H. Rathbone, Jr. (American, 1902-1936) with Boston's Martha Richardson Fine Art Gallery, and she is currently collaborating with a Boston museum to launch yet another exhibition.
"I spend full-time doing what I love, so it never seems like work to me," she laughs. "The past three years have been exciting, fulfilling and full of surprises -- who could ask for anything more -- except for many more years of the same."