Wednesday, 14 June 2023

We caught up with Nick at our recent Old Brightonians President’s Lunch and heard about his fascinating career as a specialist in antiques and fine art. He tells us about corridor cricket, camaraderie in Durnford House and the joy of having triplets!

When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?

I actually wanted to be a vet but the James Herriot books and TV series made that a very popular career path, at the time, which meant securing a University place was extremely tough. Added to that was the introduction of girls into the VIth form which proved quite a distraction. Needless to say I didn’t achieve that ambition.

Tell us about yourself now you've grown up.

I went straight from the College into work at a firm of antique and fine art auctioneers in Hove. Through a combination of night classes and correspondence courses I undertook the 3 year RICS course to become a chartered surveyor and qualified in 1984. In the 90s I worked for Bonhams and ran the SE England office and their interests in Spain, France, Portugal and Morocco. In 2008 I had a change of career and became a property auctioneer selling residential, commercial and development opportunities throughout Sussex. However I didn’t turn my back completely on the contacts I had developed over the past 28 years so I started my own antique valuation business which I ran in what little spare time I had. Covid, as it was for many people, was a wake up call and I decided to quit my auctioneering job to focus 100% of my time on my antique valuation business which is now very successful and fulfilling. I also built up many contacts in the world of property so I am also a consultant and auctioneer to Nicholas James Property. So I am possibly the only Chartered Surveyors in the country that can value both property and fine art.

What about your life now would most surprise your Brighton College teachers?

I’ve got triplets.

What are your favourite memories of your time at school?

I remember all the fun and camaraderie we had in Durnford House. Cricket in the long corridor, table tennis, book fights between the IVth form and L5 and of course the house singing competition where we would on most occasions come last. If you were in Durnford at that time you will know why, enough said. We also had a great team spirit and would often make it to the finals of most house competitions only to lose to School House in my earlier years and in the latter years Aldrich. I loved all the sport we played but not Saturday school and having to attend chapel on a Sunday twice a month.

What advice would you give to your school-age self?

You’re a long time paying the tax man so go out and have fun and see the world in your twenties. That is one of my biggest regrets.

What do you do as a career?

I own an antique and fine art valuation business and I’m a consultant and auctioneer to a firm of Brighton based estate agents and auctioneers.

What does your work involve?

I value antiques, jewellery, silver, classic cars and property for sale, probate and insurance purposes.

What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Trying to impress upon people that the valuations they have arrived at after 10 minutes of trawling the internet does not provide a realistic valuation of what their pieces are worth. There is a massive difference between the asking price displayed and what you can actually achieve for something when you come to sell it. Unfortunately the internet has created too many armchair experts.

What are you most proud of?

A very happy and successful marriage and raising three children into fine young adults.

What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?

My golf bag (clubs and balls are in it - not sure if that counts as one item) because I would then have the time to try and improve. A wind up solar radio so I can play all my favourite cheesy music from the 60s and 70s. A feather down pillow because I would have to have one creature comfort.

How would you like to be remembered?

In business I would like to be remembered as someone that was highly professional and knowledgeable with great integrity. In my personal life I would like to think that I had a good sense of humour and was fun to be around.

Contact Us

Brighton College

Eastern Road

Brighton, BN2 0AL

+44 (0) 1273 704 250

Registered charity number: 307061