The Christie’s Rep
For years, Carolyn Foxworth had been content to simply collect works of art. Pre-Colum- bian and contemporary paintings were and still are her favorites. And as an assistant director at the old Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, she helped manage the art that Dallasites like to think of as their own.
She says it never occurred to her that she might one day make a profession out of the art she loves. But that changed when New York-based Christie’s Auction and Appraisal House began eyeing Dallas as a potential site for a rep last year.
“I had a list of things I wouldn’t do [as a career], but I never thought about the auction business,” she says. “I always said I wouldn’t be an art dealer because I think it is a very competitive and sometimes disappointing business. But Christie’s is 40 percent art and 20 percent jewelry, with the other 40 percent made up of rare books, coins, antiques and toys. I love it because it combines business with art.”
Basically, Foxworth, 47, works out of her home. Her telephone rings quite a bit, and the caller is usually one of three types: someone in dire need of cash, the benefactor of a large estate or a collector who wants to purchase a specific type of art or furniture. And when she’s not on the phone, she’s making cold calls on probate attorneys and trust officers who divest estates. They may not know that Christie’s can help find buyers for everything from rare coin collections to black pearls. Foxworth says her best deal was the time she helped a Dallas man sell two chairs designed by the late architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
“But one of my toughest assignments was calling on a little old lady down in the Hill Country who had sent me documents about this fantastic violin she owned,” says Fox-worth. “It had been appraised at $60,000, but I knew there was a catch because the appraiser was also the person who had restored it. I sent the material to our musical instrument expert, and he called me back in hysterics, saying that this ’appraiser’ had been doing this to people all over Central Texas and that the violin was worthless. Legally there was nothing she could do.”
Many people, Foxworth says, believe they must have items valued in the tens of thousands for Christie’s to consider auctioning them. But on the contrary, she says, the average sale at Christie’s is $7,000. She adds that one of her assets is that she has lived in Dallas most of her life and knows the locals who are interested in the kinds of items that Christie’s selects.
She’s hoping some of them will come out in May for Christie’s first Dallas auction, which will feature the Norweb collection of Latin American coins. “It will be at the Plaza of the Americas, and it will be open to the public on a limited basis,” she says. “There will be some very valuable coins there, and when that auctioneer gets going and skipping up by thousands of dollars and you know it’s for just one little coin, well, that’s pretty exciting.”
Despite a frenzied schedule, Peter Baldwin is as permanent a fixture in Dallas as the flying red horse atop downtown’s old Magnolia Building. Not as high-profile, mind you, but just as constant.
Like a lot of Dallasites, Baldwin, 54, is dedicated to his own business. He co-founded the Baldwin-Harris Inc. Development Co. 20 years ago and simultaneously began the Baldwin Company Realtors.
But he isn’t so dedicated to his own work that he hasn’t found the time to make some significant civic contributions. Most notably, he’s been director of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, director and chairman of the Greater Dallas Community Relations Commission, a member of Judge W.M. Taylor Jr.’s Tri-Ethnic Committee, chairman of the Public Communications Foundation for North Texas (KERA/Channel 13/90FM) and head of the Citizen’s Information Committee for the successful passage of the $172 million bond issue that cleared the way for construction of the D/FW International Airport. In 1977, he made an unsuccessful bid for a Dallas City Council seat against Steve Bartlett, now a U.S. Representative.
This year, Baldwin is chairman of the 12-year-old North Texas Commission (NTC). The NTC originally was formed to support and market the D/FW airport before it replaced the word “Regional” with “International.” Its first goal accomplished, the NTC is now an organization comprised of area chambers of commerce, whose purpose is to work together in order to predict issues that will affect the area and to promote the Metroplex through international business contacts. Despite the goals, each year a few old members drop out of the NTC and others rejoin. Those memberships typically reflect whether or not there’s money in the budget for that year’s membership fee. Arlington dropped out for a few years, as did Richardson. Dallas assesses its membership each year as well. Some critical observers might call the NTC “the commission with no mission.” But if they say it to Baldwin, they’d better be prepared to back it up.
“I think it has a clear function of coordination and support and long-range thinking for the nine-county Metro-plex.. .We are trying to create a living environment so that people here want to stay and so that other people seeing the quality of life here want to come to it. If you’re going to grow, as we hope we are, then somebody needs to plan for that growth 50 or 100 years out.”
The areas of planning where Baldwin says North Texas is sorely lacking are water resources and transportation. He admits the area and the state have taken some steps in the right direction, but adds that the NTC needs to make sure the planning isn’t done on too small a scale.
He says he’s looking forward to this year’s work on the NTC because he believes in its purpose. “I remember the first board meeting I attended at the NTC, and it amazed me that these men whose futures were so inextricably tied together didn’t even know each other. If the NTC doesn’t do anything else, it offers leaders in these communities a vehicle to get together and know each other. They still have a long way to go, but if you think back to the days when Amon Carter used to bring a brown bag so he didn’t have to buy lunch in Dallas, we’ve come a long way.”
The Sports Promoter
Brad Thomas has spent the last 18 months learning the stark realities of running his own sports promotion business. He’s tall, lanky and talks so fast he rarely enunciates the last syllables of his words. SMU sports fans will remember him best as the guy who helped coin the phrase “Mustang Mania” while working under Russ Potts, the school’s former athletic director.
Thomas left SMU in June 1983. He left the security of promoting an established institution to take up the day-today uncertainties of drumming up support for intangible business ideas under the name Events Inc.
The Maryland native says he’s decided to stay in Dallas because he has a lot of friends and business contacts from his days at SMU. Here, he says, he’s been given a chance to build a business on his own. Right now, he’s working on two projects that could either make or break him this year. One is promoting an event at the Dallas Times Herald Invitational Track Meet this month in which many of the fastest NFL football players will compete in the 60-yard dash. Thomas says it took him a year to track down all the players. As recently as two months before the Dallas event, he still had no sponsor to help cover the $200,000 needed to pay for races in other cities.
“We want to do something in ’85 because we have the networks interested in ’86.I don’t want to lose the year of credibility with the players we contacted,” he says.
Another project involves a four-city Texas basketball tour featuring 10 basketball players recruited from the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins football teams. In between those promotions, Thomas and partner Michael Halbrooks (formerly with the Dallas Tornado soccer team) have done celebrity golf tournaments and have been working on endorsements for former SMU student and Olympic gold medalist Steve Lundquist and TV sports anchor Bill Macatee.
Thomas, who just turned 30, says the toughest part of his work is selling his sports ideas.
“There is just no guarantee that a thing is going to happen for you no matter how hard you work,” says Thomas. “I feel like I have a better perspective on that now. I became a Christian three years ago, and before that I thought all I was supposed to do was work deals and put promotions together.
“There is no guarantee that faith is going to make me more money or make me successful. If it doesn’t work out,” he says, “I’ll just move on to something else.”