Getting lucky at auction

The biggest art lucky dip including Paul Smith and Bill Viola opened on 'Friday the 13th'

Last week, we had "Friday the 13th", the alleged unluckiest day of the year and also the day that RCA Secret, the country’s biggest art lucky dip opened online and at RCA. The question of luck keeps following us around us this month; firstly the lottery jackpot winners, then the superstitious date and now the artistic gamble of sorts.

Search for the perfect furniture with The Independent house and home database, powered by mydeco. 

RCA Secret really is a grown-up’s game of lucky dip. Buyers choose and pay for a piece of art unsure of its actual financial worth. Rather like grabbing the object that "feels" like it has the most potential in a barrel of sawdust, buyers will queue at RCA to buy artwork without knowing who it is created by (and hence, its financial value). The auction, when each piece of postcard-sized art sells for £40, is a one-day-sale on 21 November. As luck would have it, several of the art in the auction is is by very collectable artists, designers, the rest are by up-and-coming RCA students. But buyers only get to  see the signature on the reverse once they've paid up. Choosing your artwork is a healthy gamble.

Not only does this affordable art initiative raise huge sums for money every year – it is in aid of the Royal College of Art’s Fine Art Student Award Fund, it also allows the masses to enter into dreaming of owning masterpieces. This year, 1,016 contributors, including Yoko Ono, David Bailey, Bill Viola, Paul Smith and James Dyson (and many illustrious RCA alumni), have donated 2,700 postcard-sized pieces of art.

Most buyers treat RCA Secret as a lottery of sorts; if they can hunt down a piece by one of the celebrated artists, it may well be worth thousands. A watercolour postcard by fashionable British artist Peter Doig was bought at RCA Secret in 2000 for £40 and recently auctioned for £42,000 at Sotheby's. A postcard featuring a drawing of a skull by Damien Hirst was sold for £15,600 in 2004. Lucky buyers.

An understanding of the artists' style may help buyers choose their work meaning that it is not just a question of luck. Yet what makes this annual event retain its charm is that even to industry experts, it remains a guessing game. Contributor and fashion designer Paul Smith says of this year's entries, "I've been trying to identify who some of them might be by, the funny Biro drawing of the dog and the lady I think could be Paula Rego. I don't like the spooky ones, such as the flying skull, which I imagine is probably by the Chapman Brothers. That's the sort of thing they do. And the boy in the cage reminds me of them too — I wouldn't want either of those, except as an investment!"

Annie Deakin is Editor of mydeco.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links