When I found out that, as a reporter covering Antiques Roadshow, I could bring something to be appraised, I was flummoxed. Like many ticket holders, I had no clue what to bring, so I brainstormed with family. Fortunately, my dad had an idea: a mosaic that was apparently created for Perry Como.
That’s right, Perry Como. My Dad, Steve Caputo, is a fan.
The mosaic weighs 75 pounds. He had a special case made so I could lug it from New Jersey to Boston. Five deep red crosses and a scroll that reads, “God is with us,” in Latin, on a gold background, sunk in concrete. My dad says the gold mosaic pieces are 24 karat. I asked him how he knows, and he says because it was made in Italy. My Dad is an Italian-American, and Catholic, just like Perry Como was.
“The estate of Perry Como auctioned off all of his belongings,” my dad told me. “He had died and in his will he indicated that he wanted his personal belongings to go to his fans so that everyone could have a little piece of him.”
He paid $185 for it.
“I think it’s going to be worth more in the line of $2,500 to $5,000,” he said. “I’m quite sure its one of a kind.”
Taking it to the Roadshow
Inside the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, people are waiting in a long line, holding all sorts of objects: books, lamps, jewelry, a totem poll, a crib, a large sculpture of the White House made of pearls. The first stop for people in line: Triage, where a general appraiser categorizes the objects.
Dad’s mosaic was tagged “decorative art.” There are about 25 categories for general appraisers to choose from, ranging from furniture to “militaria” to books.
After triage, I wheel my dad’s heavy piece of Perry Como through a door that leads to the main attraction: where the appraisals take place. It’s a chaotic scene inside. Lines wrap around other lines, leading to the expert appraisers. There are about 80 experts, and they’ve come from all over the country.
Decorative arts expert Sebastian Clark from New York City tells me about my Dad's mosaic.
“So each of these pieces, each individual piece of glass is called a Tesori, so they are made of glass,” Clark said.
Clark tells me the gold content is minimal -- just enough to cover the glass. So much for my dad’s claim that it’s 24 karat. Still, Clark said the mosaic was really well done.
“You know, when we look at these mosaic plaques, we want to determine the marketability,” he said. “Who would buy it? What collector? If I saw this to come up for auction today, I’d expect an auction estimate to be in the $2,000 to $3,000 range, but, you know, its only sort of hardcore Catholics who are going to go for it.”
That’s $185 paid for an object worth $2,000 to $3,000. Another Antiques Roadshow success story.