1 How did you get your start?
Like many dealers, I started as a porter at an auction house. From the age of 18 I worked for four years at Glerum Auctioneers in The Hague. It was a wonderful company where there was a huge turnover of goods and in those days the contents of entire 17th century Dutch canal houses would come in on a weekly basis. The staff there were always keen to share their knowledge and to enthuse and inspire young employees.
2 What is one great discovery you have made?
Early on in my career I bought an exceptionally fine Kraak porcelain plate (below) hidden in a lot of otherwise mediocre Chinese export plates. It was decorated with the most wonderful coat of arms which I had never seen before.
The reason for this was not my naivety but rather that it remains to this day the only recorded example of this coat of arms (Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza and Teresa de Castro y de la Cueva) on Chinese porcelain, it is the only example of armorial porcelain to be made to order for the Spanish market and the only known example of armorial Kraak porcelain. It dates to 1590-1600. Although in poor condition, it is of genuinely historical importance. I didn’t know I was born!
3 Something you would love to get your hands on – a ‘holy grail’ in your area?
To quote the BBC’s Detectorists, I suppose the Holy Grail would be the ‘Holy Grail’ but the best 17th century blue and white Transitional Chinese porcelain is extraordinarily difficult to get your hands on nowadays.
4 Something you secretly hope you’ll never sell?
A blue and white Kangxi Chinese porcelain plate with an erotic scene. It always makes me smile.
5 Who is someone you admire?
My late father, with whom I worked for 20 years. When I joined his business he was not interested in succession or starting his own dynasty, he just thought it would be fun. We had so much fun. He was irreverent, hugely knowledgeable and a brilliant businessman.
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