Last week I was part of a panel discussion entitled ‘Not For Sale’ at Christies where I was asked to reveal the antiques I could never sell or part with. The charming evening filled with endless champagne and delicious canapés was hosted by Country Life alongside Charles Stanley Wealth Managers.
19 July 2019
It was a privilege to share the stage with the matriarch of the interior world, Nina Campbell, C.E.O of Christies Orlando Rock and the up and coming star of the Art world, Sarah Reynolds, conducted by Giles Kime, Interiors Editor of Country Life.
I have been an antique dealer since I was a boy. I learnt the ropes from my great mentor Warner Dailey and the first thing he taught me was to take a deal when I see it. So the topic of the Christies discussion could have posed challenging. How could there be something that I would not consider parting with if the occasion came to sell it? However the question was not as difficult to answer as I initially thought. Instantly I knew what I would never part with. The three antiques that I would never sell are framed around time. In a way you could say they represent the past, present and future.
The 19th Century bust of Chrysippus came into our home, seven years ago. When my son Monty was three, he was hospitalised with Meningitis and for the month while he was there, Charlotte and I never left his side. While he rested I waded through online auctions and Country house sales on my iPad. As a rule, I would never consider buying anything that I haven’t seen in person but there was no way I could leave him. I bought the bust from an Irish Country house sale and when we got home there it was waiting for us in the drawing room. It was absolutely magical. Creamy, beautiful, ivory, statuary, super severe, a lovely patina… untouched. A total delight. Then I discovered that Chrysippus was a stoic philosopher and at once it became synonymous with Monty’s recovery. It is a reminder to us all of his strength and bravery without complaint and how lucky we are.
At first glance this 19th Century mahogany box filled with objects may appear to be pedestrian. You may ask why I would choose this out of all the things? I will never know the stories behind some of the collectibles and why the curiosities were prized by its former collector, but I love that they were. In addition, from time to time I add my own pieces into the box. The objects have my own meaning to me that nobody else understands. It becomes a silent dialogue between myself and someone from the past.
This 18th Century antique fire basket (I love the shape of the basket so much we have created a reproduction version) represents my future. This is the grate that will sit in the hearth of the fire in the house I dream of in Corfu. The house that Charlotte and I will retire to that will personify peace and tranquility. The fire will be lit cradled within the basket and it will just be us. No phones. No distractions. Just quiet and calm with a flicking reminder of all the years we have worked together that have culminated in that moment. Now all I have to do is actually buy my fantasy house in Corfu!