by Mal James & Gina Kantzas

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

Provenance Matter$

Those that understand the value of provenance; want to know the history of a Namatjira or a Renoir; the restorers’ qualifications on an original Eames or Benz and the likely expected future condition of a Grange or a Rothschild – before they purchase.

What is provenance?

Provenance is a word of French origin (of course) and if you goggle it, you’ll read – it’s a record of ownership of a work of art, used as a guide to authenticity or quality.

Why is provenance important in a home?

To some it’s not; however, for many provenance

  • is a form of comfort in getting what you think you are paying for,
  • a predictor of future demand and in turn future price
  • a confirmation that others who seem influential/classy agree with you

and that’s an emotion combination of trust, that we have seen premiums paid on. (example: Organic v Supermarket brand)

In a busy world, has provenance gone out of fashion?

No, the opposite, brand is provenance, pest and internet valuation reports are provenance, A Sec 32 is provenance.

A better question. Has real provenance (full and deep research) been replaced by superficial provenance (marketing)? Mmmmm, yep! What we are talking about here, in relation to 45 Chrystobel, goes a lot deeper than the agents logo, the flashy brochure, the made up SOI.

In the World’s, Australia’s and Melbourne’s top 1% of anything, provenance holds great emotional value and if managed well great price value. A reasonable level of time, understanding and detective work is required for what we call real provenance.

Welcome to 45 Chrystobel, a home James Buy Sell bought for Murray and Anne in 2008. Besides the obvious, as seen in the video and Chrystobel getting a rating of 900/1000 – it was the additional researched provenance that gave Murray and Anne confirmation of their thoughts, that ultimately initiated strategies and then actions, that bested their rivals (emotional competition) and ultimately bought the home.


It was real provenance that has led to a very happy 12 years of living so far, with almost no changes AND it will be Chrystobel’s provenance that resells this home in the future.  


This article is about the importance of Provenance and the 3P’s of Chrystobel

When you are looking at any home – there is price, property and position – (3Ps). Position is pre-eminent in provenance.




  • The world has how many truly great cities? Melbourne is one!
  • Melbourne has a handful of influential suburbs: Albert/Middle Park, Carlton/Fitzroy, Essendon, Brighton, Toorak and Hawthorn. They are the suburbs that a century of history shows are the centres of influence. For a while Canterbury/Balwyn has added itself to this list.
  • Within suburbs – there are precincts of influence. Golden Mile, Tara, Sackville and in Hawthorn there are 3 key precincts. St James Park, Scotch Hill and Grace Park.
  • Within the precincts there are important streets. Kooyongkoot, Shakespeare, Coppin and within Grace Park there are Hawthorn Grove, Mary Street and Chrystobel Crescent.
  • Within streets there are good and bad numbers, sides and ends – noise, light, sit proud.

Positional ProvenanceCity / Suburb / Precinct / Road / Numbers

Chrystobel ProvenanceMelbourne/ Hawthorn / Grace Park / Chrystobel / 45

Chrystobel Crescent Hawthorn has perfect positional provenance.



PROPERTY Provenance

Builder, Architect, Renovations.

45 Chrystobel has impeccable building influences and class provenance.

Influence: noun

the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.

Class: noun

a set or category of things having some property or attribute in common and differentiated from others by kind, type, or quality.

Class: verb

assign or regard as belonging to a particular category

Class: adjective

showing stylish excellence.

How do we know which architects and builders are influential, are class? What are they worth in addition to the land, bricks and mortar?

Chrystobel was built in 1888 – plenty of other homes were built in 1888 in Gold Rush Times – few remain – why is Chrystobel so special?


) Architectural Provenance:

J.A.B. Koch (1845-1928) in part is why – he was the original architect. His list of credits is lengthy – look up Wikipedia.

You have heard of the National Trust’s Labassa in Caulfield?

John Koch was the architect of Labassa and also the architect on 45 Chrystobel.

As an aside we also bought his Richmond residence in Church Street for clients Lucy and Alastair in 2013 – don’t get us started on facades again.

) Builder Provenance:

In new builds – its critical to understand the builder’s reputation and see other works 10 years and older – that is builder provenance. In older builds and renovations, the skills of the builder pass or fail on the time test, more so than reputations.


) Renovation Provenance:

So many renovations are measured by $ spent, big expansive rooms and finishes, magazine awards. But many renovations and newbuilds are merely one man’s concrete ego waiting for the next woman’s bulldozer.

Only a few architects understand the organism of a classic older building. Most want to put their own stamp on somebody else’s masterpiece and in doing so damage the history, damage the provenance, damage the emotion. Many older homes are just a façade of history with a few plastic emotionless boxes tacked in/on behind – like the staff canteen behind a western movie set.

Most but not all – nobody is saying all old is good, either.

Chrystobel Crescent Hawthorn had significant renovations carried out under the leadership of heritage architect Michael Munckton.

We have bought other Munckton renovated homes – we feel it’s important that on older homes an experienced architect deals sympathetically – if you want to keep its historical provenance – if you don’t, that’s of course ok too (it’s your home).

Chrystobel and another Munckton renovated home, Clendon Rd Toorak, were bought by separate clients, in part due to Munckton’s respectful renovations. Clendon was an original Marcus Martin.

Neither has boxes tacked on the back and in fact both homes are a long way away from big, expansive, gold leafed caverns. However, they still work in 2020 as classic period large scale family homes – they are not pretend classics – they are real ones.

Clendon, Chrystobel and another home we bought for clients Kooyongkoot Road Scotch Hill (mentioned below) have excellent Building and 3Ps provenance.



PRICE Provenance

Influence, class and emotion are all intertwined in a home’s provenance and all affect price – not just now, but in the future.

Having said that, how do we avoid the “any price is ok syndrome?”

Price provenance is how at say $10million and above – traditional ways of specific comparison valuation are rarely possible. Price provenance is about $ opinions that actually mean something.

Clendon Road – had two bidders – 150+ individual bids.

Kooyongkoot Road (Crossakeil) – “just us and them” – 3 months to negotiate a price. Where’s the price provenance? That’s secret sauce – but price provenance was proven – our clients and the sellers are all experienced negotiators and things would not have proceeded if price provenance wasn’t established on both sides. Coincidentally the architect Harry Gibbs designed Crossakeil as part of the 1884 Grace Park home design competition, where Chrystobel also came out of.

Chrystobel: when our clients bought it in the GFC, it had 5 bidders around the table, in the front dining room, competing to $8million. The price had provenance.

Great Provenance = Branding = Emotion = Price


All homes, at all price levels have provenance – a question for buyers and sellers is, do you know and understand the value of that provenance?

Buying Agent: James Buy Sell on all homes.

Selling Agent: Ross Savas, Gerald Delany, Mike Gibson, (The Great Provenance Triumvirate) and Sam Wilkinson, all from Kay and Burton

Architects: John Koch, Michael Martin, Harry Gibbs, Michael Munckton

Photo: National Trust Labassa