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Under the hammer

Updated: 2013-07-15 10:30
By Rebecca Lo ( China Daily)
Under the hammer

Stephen Freeman poses with a portrait of Sir Thomas Gresham. Photos provided to China Daily

Steve Freeman tells Rebecca Lo that there is plenty of room in Hong Kong for a mid-end auction house stocked with beautiful curios that people can actually afford.

I love my dining table. It is a Duncan Phyfe trestle style table circa early 20th century, with four matching cabriole legged chairs. It was in excellent condition when I purchased it in the late-'90s and has followed me from Toronto to Hong Kong.

What I love most about my dining table is that every dinner I have around it enriches its pedigree. There is something about gently used second-hand items that exude happy vibes, along with being a highly sustainable way to furnish a home.

Previous owners who kept their treasures in pristine condition clearly loved and cared for them, and they pass along their legacy through worn armrests and leathers weathered to buttery softness.

In Hong Kong, these types of treasures rarely have an outlet to properly exchange hands between like-minded people. There are either brand name auction houses such as Christie's and Sotherby's selling items at astronomical prices, or online forums like where people post Hello Kitty plastic cups and rusty fridges.

That was the seed that spawned Gresham's, a mid-end auction house founded by Stephen Freeman. The American was at the helm of AsiaCity Publishing for the past two decades, establishing HK Magazine along with the annual ArtWalk open gallery event.

"A friend at a party was trying to sell things at auction and had a hard time," Freeman says. "I thought: I could do that. I saw a huge gap between Christie's and things that would be at a garage sale. There was nothing in-between. Gresham's is for items that are too good to be given away."

Under the hammer

Under the hammer

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