Behind the Scenes: Restoring Sculpture

HLK Before and After

Unlike the “Potato Head’ of Palencia or the “Monkey Christ” fresco, infamous botched restorations in Spain, this story has a happy ending…

Remember that post when I helped acquire a gorgeous Jaume Plensa inspired by TS Elliot? Well, because things aren’t always so rosy in the art world, I’m sharing this not so glamorous story.

After much planning and anticipation, our client’s long-coveted sculpture arrived right in the nick of time for the wife’s birthday. Everyone was beyond thrilled…for the first week.

Several days later, the metal started to rust and corrosion took over the entire piece giving it a dirty yellow, pock-marked veneer. The exact cause was undetermined, but we are certain some kind of terrible electrochemical reaction had occurred. We had been assured before the sale, by both the seller and the artist studio, that the work was absolutely suitable for outdoor use. But, not long after it was installed outside, did signs of severe discoloration appear over the entire steel sculpture. It looked less like a breathtaking iconic work by the client’s long-coveted artist, and more like a corroded imposter taking up residence in their garden.

All was not lost, however. Several calls, texts and emails later, the seller offered to make reparations by covering the cost of the restoration (the client declined) and a local restorer was chosen (out of many) who tested several options to ensure the best method was applied. The studio provided detailed instructions as well–it really was a multiparty effort! Buying art is never a binary experience. I am so grateful for my client and all the professionals who helped return the work to its original glory! 

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