A niece’s husband likes to think about infinity. I can identify with that, but I also have to say that a beautiful piece of mahogany furniture has far greater interest for me. Infinity has a scope that precludes reality for those of us who are not physicists or theoretical mathematicians but good color is very real.

The decorative arts is tactile and visual. Fine art makes you feel as if it is tactile, at least good fine art does. And both the decorative and fine arts, when they are good, make you think that the creator of the chair, the canvas or whatever was thinking in some way beyond the moment of creation.

And that is what makes us interesting. Infinity exist in what we are creating, not in who we are or what we own. It exists in our children and their children. Unfortunately, it exists in hate, but it also exists in love. The answer does seem pretty simple.


The NY Times reported that Mayor Bloomberg in a speech at Johns Hopkins yesterday “urged an end to the political manipulation of science”. It is about time someone said something about this. Faith based science is, I believe, an oxymoron.

Speaking of morons, I agree with Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks about being ashamed that George Bush is from Texas. I am ashamed that the university that my father attended and esteemed also is the alma mater of George, Dick Cheney and Joe Liebermann. These Elis have made Yale look badly as none of them seem to rely on their brains or education. Everything they do harks back to their “faith”. What faith is it—that we should believe they know more and should be allowed to do as they please? I had that faith in my parents as a child. I won’t have that kind of faith in my politicians. (Richard Nixon where are you?)

Faith is important, don’t get me wrong. Faith is essential to humanity. But to insist that faith in a politician, or God for that matter, is essential for our survival on this planet is short range thinking. I would rather believe in the antiques trade which is hard enough as it is.


The British Antique Dealers Association are projected to do a show at Sotheby’s in January of 2007. It has roused passions among dealers on both sides of the Atlantic with the American trade, particularly those exhibiting at the Winter Antiques Show, feeling that BADA has sand bagged the Winter Show which opens two days later than the BADA Fair. The English trade feel it is their right to do the show.

Of course it is their right to have the show. I, and I wrote a letter to this affect to the “Antiques Trade Gazette”, believe that BADA has committed themselves rashly and thoughtlessly. They could have opened the following week, they could have opened the show to American exhibitors, they could have found a better venue than Sotheby’s and they could have been in consultation with the American trade organizations.

The “Gazette” is making hay off the controversy as the sun shines. The latest letter I have heard about but not seen comes from Glenn Randall which attacks Gaylord Dillingham and me for the letters we wrote to the Gazette about the issues in the previous paragraph. It is very rich that Randall, whose exaggerations might fill a book about whoppers and not the beef kind, is standing up for the British trade who were infuriated many years ago that he was showing a three quarter size lacquer cabinet on his booth at the Winter Show without mentioning that the crest and feet were replaced. That exaggeration eventually cost Randall his place in the Winter Antiques Show, his membership in NAADAA and a great deal of money as the cabinet, alleged to have sold to the late Wendell Cherry for $1,000,000, was returned.

I remember Glenn telling me in an interview I did for “Art and Auction” over twenty-five years ago that he had been the silver medalist in the Olympics in the pole vault. When Randall’s name surfaced in connection with his letter to the ATG, I thought I might google his name in the Olympics. He was never there. Oops! To have confidence in Glenn is to be conned by Glenn.

The issue remains, however, that BADA has been snarky in the extreme. It appears that the snarkiness comes form the executive board in particular who did not let their membership know about the decision to do a show until it was announced. That’s a democratic organization for you! I am on the board of the League and NAADAA and we feel that our constituents should be the first to know about developments, not the last.

 

In talking to a British dealer this morning about the forthcoming BADA Show, he said that the only sensible comment he had heard was what one dealer wrote in to the “Antiques Trade Gazette”. Why is Sotheby’s recording record profits while the trade is struggling. The mere fact that BADA is paying Sotheby’s for exhibition space is an enormous capitulation.

This is a pointed and very good question you could ask the antique trade and all the various organizations that dealers belong to. It is the point that is being ignored, the BADA Show notwithstanding. Why are the auction houses so successful?

I look at the dealers that are doing well in the English furniture trade and I see them offering great service. Sotheby’s recently offered their best clients free delivery within certain perimeters of where the sale takes place as well as limited free storage. It doesn’t seem like a lot and most dealers are willing to do the same, but it resonates with the clients.

The British dealer that came in to my shop this morning feels that the auction houses live in an ideal world. Clients looking at something will be told if other bidders are interested in it which only stokes the competitive desires. He also feels that there is a fraud perpetrated as well. None of the auction people, he feels, deserve the title, expert.

Think about that for awhile.

 

My friend, Gaylord Dillingham, has been venting his spleen about the forthcoming BADA Show at Sotheby’s next January in the Antiques Trade Gazette. Glenn Randall has thrown a little fuel on the fire by lumping Gaylord and my positions together and then inaccurately commenting on them. (Glenn should know better as he is the proverbial pot–maybe he should join BADA but I don’t think they would have him.) Gaylord can’t let go because he truly feels that the BADA has been, at the least, duplicitous.

I am not sure that I agree with him. The Brits are the very first at making the antiques trade, known as “the trade” sound like one big happy family. It isn’t. It is cut throat and competitive. The Brits are no more interested in making nice to American dealers than they are in making nice to American clients. They see “the trade” as business, nothing more, nothing less. That they can be polite to their competitors is a trademark of British manners. That they undermine you is a factor of business.

I have had many conversations with Gaylord over the years about seeing the Brits not as friends (although some of them certainly are) but as businessmen, intent on making a living no matter what. The passion that most of us have in this business is certainly a strong glue, but that glue has no value when it comes to doing business.


You could toss up my trade show experience in Dubai as either inspired or really dumb. So far, the needle is leaning towards really dumb, but then the clock has, and probably never will, run out on the experience. I hope it will be like the buying trip I took to Tasmania which actually turned a profit, but not right away.

Dubai is said to have a third of all construction cranes in the world. They are building fast and I don’t see many signs of an infrastructure. When you think that virtually everything is brought in by plane, you can imagine how soon they will be needing a second airport and a lot more lanes added to the main highway. You would think that a spot of English furniture would also go down well, but that hasn’t happened yet, at least as far as I am concerned.

Meanwhile think about possibilities and imagine the BADA doing something like starting a new fair in Monaco, Nairobi or Oslo, but never, no never, at Sotheby’s in New York at the same time as the Winter Antiques Show. Talk about sleeping with the enemy! A letter by a John Adams to the editor of the “Antiques Trade Gazette” in response to letters written by Gaylord Dillingham and me called us “imperialistic whingers”. Whew, William Safire is still on top with his inspired phrase, “nattering nabobs of negativity”. This chap, Mr. Adams, should realize that he needs to work on his insults before I think of replying to him. By the way Mr. Adams, I think you are the imperialist in this situation.