Picked up in 60 Years
and considered to the point
“ Collectors are Happy People ”
( Goethe )
And so I see myself again in the sanctum of a collector assoluta – averse to any fuss about his person up to, for instance, the 85th, which he celebrates, departing, alone by himself and his wife in the museums at Munich, with the old acquaintances – , viewing , discussing and hearing him simply saying
“ But if one just wants to have it … ”
No different in former decades , still as assistant, in the office of a collector just out for something big, unfurling incunabula, manuscripts, baroque literature, and he looks, weighs and parts into yes & no. Then a look at the clock – and the movement of two hands. Which reunite what they had parted. And the question
“ How much is all this … ”
And, already about to issue a cheque, following up, “by the way, sometimes I would like to have … ” We had it. Right now. “How much? I just add it, but it’s no hurry.”
And once more I see a collector , by now already since long working for own account, dividing the presented and hear his summing up “So this you can take back.” And starting immediately, I encounter his visiting sister, still overhearing,
“ Well , Otto , buying old books again ? ”
And as occasionally there are indeed higher ones for collectors than just their dealers, for once I took the second pile after the first.
And since it happened so in Holy Cologne , Josef Haubrich’s résumé of 1959 isn’t far away
« My experience
from 40 years living with the arts :
almost never I have regretted
to have acquired a work of art ,
but sometimes I have regretted for years
not to have acquired one »
The dealer can only subscribe to this. He, too, rarely has a chance for another grasp.
“ Have you bought it ? ” So again another Rhenish collector, still young – “if my father knew that …” – and beside the build-up of the actual, that is Ridinger collection, like myself taken to wall-filling grandeur of international cartography and views. Meant was a rare wall-map of the Iberian peninsula. Which a mutual friend, Dutch painter and travelling en passant dealer, just had attempted to recommend to him. And of whom he knew, his next stop would be Godesberg. Of course I had bought it. And we still were at breakfast, when he stormed in to revert his not-having-purchased and was out again.
Many years later, when he no longer cared to add a further one to his father’s comfortable abodes, I bought it back to appease hungry public stomachs. And considered it, on a different occasion, as a final touch to be able to sell two of Justus Danckers’ “t’ Amsterdam … inde Calverstraat” continent wall-maps of about the 1690s back into the very street of their origin, into the Amsterdams Historisch Museum! America , however, went to Munich and shone 1983 in the exhibition 425 Years Bavarian State Library (no. 170 of the exhibition catalog). Later joined by Mercator’s wall-map of Germany. As far earlier already a portrayal of America could be delivered “as (state) present for President Johnson”. And apropos cartography of Germany 1988 the German Historical Museum lured with the hope “soon to receive again such an attractive offer as (Streit’s) General Map (1807/15)”. One was “pleasantly surprised (in Berlin) about the quality and the preservation of the General Map” delivered.
“ People want to sin ” the Deutsche Lebensmittelzeitung once stated and therefore it is the dealer’s obligation to help them in this, even if at first he hears the admonition
“ You shall not always tempt me so
as you do anew by your letter of the 6th this month. However, for I am a weak man I ask you to send me the offered precious item on approval … ”
I had offered him the NINTH GERMAN BIBLE (Nuremberg, Koberger, 1483) in an exceptional copy in respect of coloring, binding, in short, general state. And, as supposed, neither he nor his wife parted with it. And there was no more talk about the price being “even beyond Mr. Nordhoff’s Volkswagen price raise”, as only the month before on occasion of the acquisition of two other illustrated works. There’s a lot of good in using a dealer, who puts into one’s collection unexcitedly a top copy of Menzel’s Uniforms of the Army under Frederick the Great created for but thirty potentates only, when one had only asked for the 100-sheet facsimile selection from about 1900 as the only imaginable.
No different the experience of a new client when he had the secretary, familiar with the collection, confirm the acquisition of a contemporary leather-bound copy of Ridinger’s Design set and to entrust the desire for the 101-sheet Wondrous and was told, she had not believed her ears when hearing this were available, too. And that of the same provenance obviously having been still in direct contact with the Ridingers themselves. It were an exceptional copy.
On the other hand:
« (Warren Buffett)
is always interested in underrated stocks
whose ‘inner value’ he assesses higher
than the rate traded at the stock exchange »
in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of Sep. 25, 2008
“ The hunting for famous names has considerable drawbacks anyway; it rather would be more correct
to love the pictures for their beauty ”
( Jacob Burckhardt )
“ … an existing signature (is) not always a reliable mark of genuineness: the number of false signatures on paintings is legion! A good collector collects – spoken elliptically – not names , but quality ”
(Laurens J. Bol, Holländische Maler des 17. Jhdts. nahe den großen Meistern, 1969, page 221/II).
“ To any art belong two : one who makes it , and one who needs it ”
“ How many things do you know which are indeed necessary ? ”
“ No one would long for jewels if they were necessary .
And for that reason exactly then they would be unnecessary ”
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Magazin November 11, 1994 in an interview of Michael Freitag with Paolo Bulgari [b. 1937, grandson of Sotirio Bulgari as the founder “of one of the world’s most famous jewelers”]).
“ Great (items)
deserve great prices ”
“ Sometimes the best deals are those
which do not materialize ”
( H. P. Kraus , A Rare Book Saga )
“ For Bodmer was , as any serious collector, a ( considered here less to the point ) miser for whom most prices were under the suspicion of fraud ”
(antiquary legend Bernhard H. Breslauer on the cooperation with his worthy client Martin Bodmer [Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, Geneva] in citation by Thomas Wirtz, [Master and Sleuth], Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Sep. 12, 2000)
“ One cannot have both at once :
a precious piece
and a low price ”
( Nicholas Oppenheimer
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Magazin
November 11, 1994 )
“ What is a cynic ? A man who knows the price of everything , and the value of nothing ”
(Oscar Wilde , Lord Darlington in Lady Windermere’s Fan , Act III)
“ Money is still printed ,
great art not .
This means that – no matter how many green bills it takes –
great art is always cheap ”
( Richard L. Feigen in
Lisa Zeitz, [A Collector in Dealer’s Clothing],
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Aug. 6, 2005 )
“ Without even studying it (Saul) Steinberg called his wife: ‘Honey, come downstairs. We just bought a Rembrandt’ … Steinberg hadn’t even asked for the price ” ( Richard L. Feigen as before )
“ If one has to ask for the price
one cannot afford it ”
( J. P. Morgan )
“ Do you have consultants … ? ”
“ No ,
art is subjective .
There is no use of counsel .
For this is subjective , too ”
( Norbert A. Platt
as former Chairman of the luxury goods group
Richemont S.A., Geneva ,
on occasion of an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung )
Correspondingly John Quinn already May 24, 1921 in a letter to Cornelius Sullivan : “ The greatest Cézanne in the Exhibition [at the Metropolitan] is the wonderful figure of the boy in gray …
“ (My adviser , the painter)
cost me this painting …
I was inclined to buy it …
but John shrugged his shoulders
and said ,
‘It’s a very empty thing
and I don’t think you want it .’
That isn’t the only bit of bad advice
that John gave me ”
( John Rewald in
The Paintings of Paul Cézanne
New York, Abrams, 1996, vol. I, no. 555 )
“ Morgan came … and like all millionaires he was reputed to understand nothing of arts. But this was absolutely incorrect. I noticed at once that he could distinguish between quality and mediocrity. The best pieces attracted his attention immediately and right away he gave order without consulting other ‘experts’ … ”
(Augusto Jandolo, [Confessions of an Art Dealer, Vienna 1939, here 1954, pp. 221 f.)
“ Poussin about 1637 to Jacques Stella ,
that the arrangement ,
the gestures , and the forms of figures in a composition
should please those
‘ who understand to read them ’ ”
( Hilliard T. Goldfarb in the Montreal/Cologne Richelieu catalog edited by him, 2002, p. 10/I )
“ The watercolor has corresponded with own judgement very well. The Consul sends his best regards ”
(letter of the office of Dr. G. S. of Oct. 8, 1964)
Nevertheless it is sometimes forgotten in the hurry …
“ … Sotheby’s confine themselves to high-quality wares from pertinent collections,
as the financial expenditure for one object
– no matter if it is auctioned off at one hundred or one million euro –
on average figures at a thousand euro … ”
( A.H., [Profitability of the Auction Houses,
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Feb. 4, 2006 )
“ (Maximilian Speck von Sternburg) has recorded the origin of the paintings in three inventory catalogs composed by himself whenever notable previous owners could be named.
For illustrious provenances
were considered quality seals increasing the value .
Like distinguished genealogical trees they seemed to raise the quality of paintings. Who could say of himself he has works
which once were the property of known connoisseurs
proved by this , beside affluence and fortune ,
his own flair of quality and made a name for himself .
Max Speck undoubtedly was conscious of this. For him collecting art was not only an inward necessity, but at the same time a means
to show personal success just as social rise ”
(Dieter Gleisberg, [Maximilian Speck von Sternburg’s Collection of Paintings – Sources and Contours] , in Maximilian Speck von Sternburg, Leipsic 1998, page 23/II).
« We are neither expensive nor cheap —
we are specialists »
shirt advertising by Tyrwhitt, London, March 2004
“ During the holidays I had time and leisure to occupy myself with Ridinger. About your ‘High-priced Specialists ? (Fictitious Conversation of a Collector with his Dealer at the Turn of the Year)’, it’s in the nature of things that the collector always regards the offer as overpriced, while the dealer is convinced of giving something away. I am pleased that the collection has advanced so far. It would be much more expensive today … Here just one gap … ”
(Mr. H. D. in an extensive written letter Boxing Day 2000)
“ Good art dealers
don’t sell works of art — they permit people
to buy works of art ”
( the New York gallery owner André Emmerich in the 1980s in an autobiographic essay
from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung September 29, 2007 on occasion of his decease )
“ For the extensive offer of the Luther Bible printed in Jena 1564 we thank you sincerely.
By your investigations you have enhanced our bible bibliography ”
(Deutsches Bibel-Archiv Hamburg by letter of Aug. 17, 1965)