Of Samira Abbassy, impromptu decisions and other things....

On a very cold day in February, I received an Email from Mona Hauser, owner - and soul - of XVA Gallery, pioneer in the art scene of Dubai and an old friend of mine, announcing an exhibition entitled An Autobiography & Other Confessions by Iranian born, New York based artist Samira Abbassy.

Abbassy’s oil paintings on canvas or gesso panel, are process-based and explore ideas of cultural identity as expressed through self-portraits and re-interpreted stories of her homeland. I felt automatically appealed by her beautiful reds and blues, her mysterious, powerful, sad and even sometimes disturbing esthetic, which reminded me personally quite a lot of Frida Kahlo’s art (and life).
So I called, asked about the price (I love art as well as I love investing, but price is still an important factor to ponder), I learnt that the one I wanted was already sold, and finally decided to acquire “As she Swallows Their Fate, 2013” pictured below.

So far, so good,…. Unfortunately, when the oil on gesso panel finally made it to Germany, 6 weeks later, it did not look like I thought, or at least, as I thought I would look like, and that is when a couple of important lessons –perfectly applicable to the business world - came to my mind:

  1. The very act of investing (taking a stake in a company, incorporating one or for the sake of it buying a piece of art, and vintage car or a watch) is something exceptional per se, an undeniable source of contentment.
  2. Once you invest, even if at some point you realize you might have made a wrong decision, or at least it did not turn out as you expected, persevere. Adapt your product, change your value proposition, invest in new segments, hire a new CEO, whatever, but cope with adversity and thrive for success.
  3. Do not forget the “Sunk cost theory”: sunk costs are past opportunity costs that are partially (as salvage, if any) or totally irretrievable and, therefore, should be considered irrelevant to future decision- making. So simple, so obvious, and still we often forget about it.
  4. Last but not least, only invest money you are ready to write-off (at least mentally) – no one likes that scenario, no one believes it might happen to him- or herself, but fact is, it happens.

Luckily enough, Samira Abbassy’s “As she swallows her fate” is far, far from a sunk cost. Her work is shown internationally and has been acquired for private and public collections, including: the Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum, the British Government Art Collection, the Burger Collection in Hong Kong and the Donald Rubin collection (Rubin Museum, NY).
So, overcoming my initial disappointment, I choose a stunning gold and black hand-made frame, learnt to appreciate its deceiving simplicity and decided to hang it in my brand new office, as a permanent remainder about how simple seems to do good business and how difficult is to do it great.