Tue Jan 28, 2020 London

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Luxury and the arts From houses to cars and from Hockney to van Dyck, a profile of the best and the worst

Stunt on Art

James Stunt shares his experiences in the art world; he reveals what inspired him to get involved in it and his views on what is wrong about it


When I first met my now ex-wife Petra Ecclestone in 2006, I was at a dinner where art was discussed. I was with her, her sister Tamara and her then boyfriend Gavin Dein, and I did not know anything about the subject. I literally had zero knowledge of art. I recall being very embarrassed about that.


On that night I decided to rectify this and in the coming months, I learnt much. I was lucky to find the expert Philip Mould and he effectively took me under his wing. After being introduced to him and realising I’d been buying art at top price before, Philip put me on a better path. He may be an academic but he is also an art dealer and it was extremely kind of him and Dr. Bendor Grosvenor to teach me that you must pay top price at auction and from dealers predominantly in the  old master area for works that are in the catalogue raisonné or have been universally accepted on whichever particular artist.


However, why Philip Mould was so important to my success was that he taught me about misattributed works of art colloquially known as ‘Sleepers’ in the tight-knit art world. Philip, Dr. Bendor Grosvenor and Fergus Hall are definitely the world’s greatest at locating ‘sleeper pictures’ and to not be coarse, exploit their true value both academically and financially. Philip Mould is so exceptional at this that he once purchased a work on eBay by Thomas Gainsborough for less than £1,000 and had it proven by Hugh Belsey, the living authority on the artist. He and  Dr. Bendor Grosvenor discovered not one but two self-portraits, which is the most valuable oeuvre of any artist by the great artist Sir Anthony van Dyck. I attempted to buy one for £12.5 million but a nation spoke and I withdrew my bid.


Fergus Hall, another mentor of mine, has made numerous discoveries and one of these which I purchased, as it was the last ever female double by Sir Anthony van Dyck called ‘The Cheeke Sisters,’ bar the ones at Sudeley Castle, Chatsworth and Blenheim Palace, whose strict trust status precludes there sale from ever taking place. I can proudly say mine is the only one left in private hands.


I love art and am passionate about all things that go with it. The industry, however, has left a bad taste in my mouth. Sadly it is controlled by a small cabal who undeservedly resent people like mine’s success. I am not academically trained and they see me as a champagne Charlie and a spiv with a lucky eye. Even though I’ve made several discoveries myself, such as Paulus Pontious by van Dyck, a self portrait of Sir Peter Lely and many more too long to list, to the undeserving few that control this industry, I represent everything they fear and resent. This was just the case also with how Philip Mould was so badly wronged by a smear campaign and his works were boycotted at auction, like mine have been, by utter jealously. I will not name the person who did this to my dear friend though this is widely known.


The Daily Telegraph, whom I have normally nothing but the upmost respect for, recently however wrote an inappropriate article whereby they implied I was selling off the family silver. That nonsense did not bother me personally but what did was that they named the five pieces of art in auction, which in turn meant that they were “bought-in” unsold. That meant “burnt inventory” within the trade and it was an utter disgrace.


For every person who is interested in discovering ‘sleepers’ and selling for large profits, I recommend you read Philip Mould’s Sleuth and watching Fake or Fortune. I would not have succeeded if it wasn’t for the help of Philip Mould and Dr. Bendor Grosvenor. Both of them have helped me so much and I hope you all get involved in this wonderful world.


James Stunt is a businessman, art collector and philanthropist. Follow him on Instagram at @james_stunt29 and YouTube by clicking here.


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18 comments on “Stunt on Art”

  1. This is superb. James Stunt has indeed found a new vocation. Further comment on the art market and where it is going is required from this plainly bright chap.

  2. I am honestly so impressed with how intelligent James Stunt is. He is refined and cultured yet blunt and humble by deferring to his mentors. This is proof positive that the Daily Mail have been presenting a misrepresentation of James as this shows he is the opposite of the nonsense they print. It’s disgusting how long they have gotten away with trying to make this brilliant gentlemen look bad. Well done James I am a new fan.

  3. I’d like Mr Stunt to get his private jet to fly Fiona Bruce Down Under!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I need a bit of her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yummy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Wow he is handsome and intelligent! I think James Stunt is very attractive!!!! I love him he is the full package ????

  5. A passion hard to actually be knowledgable in, but James had clearly made some indisputable smart purchases due to his knowledge and understanding of the art world. He’s collector of priceless and beautiful peices. Truly admirable!! Nice work James Stunt

  6. Great article. I will buy Philip Mould sleuth. Also I love James style and collection having been lucky to see it live. Keep it up sir

  7. James Stunt has shown himself to be quite the contrast to what he is portrayed as. Keep it up sir and don’t let the bastards at the Daily Mail grind you down.

  8. Philip Mould is a brilliant art historian and James Stunt plainly learnt well from him. Good on the both of you.

  9. James Stunt is plainly far more intelligent than the world credits him with being. He is going to change the perception people have if he carries on this way. Good for him.

  10. Very interesting article, thank you, James. (apparently feel I can call you James, not Mr Stunt. The power of the Internet).

  11. So much more to you James than just the “gold bars & flash cars”… Daily Mail take note!!! Not to mention the sharpest sense of humour & the sweetest heart.

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