The late Chris Green.

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A pupil of Tonbridge School, he dumbfounded his parents by refusing the usual path of A levels and university to work in ‘ships stores’ in the east London docks… cutting his teeth in shipping, he moved on to work with Michael Gerson (now part of the AGM Group) where he often told me how he learned everything he knew about European road freight during his time under the renowned Gerson.

In the mid 1970s Chris joined Jill Martin (founder of Martinspeed) and Rees Martin (founder of Momart) at Vannic (Valuable Antiques Nicely Nested in Containers). An apparently riotous and hedonistic time ensued, an era that appears almost unimaginable in today’s workplace.

After the fire at the King’s Cross warehouse and the demise of Vannic, Chris ran Northcote, a trucking company dedicated to the transporting of antiques around Europe. This was a time before digital technology… running to telephone boxes to contact drivers when the BT line went down, drivers collecting huge amounts of cash from wealthy clients, sending telex messages to overseas agents who would still have to wait for the original documents to arrive prior to arranging customs clearance.

Lured back to work

In the mid-1980s Chris sold Northcote and made his first (failed) attempt at retirement, aiming to spend more time on his passion for windsurfing and his home in Brighton. The lure of art shipping, however, was too much to resist and Chris began as a consultant at Martinspeed, developing shipping to the then growing international art fair market. Running groupage shipments to New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami - initially even driving the trucks between the exhibition venues - so tenacious was Chris that even earthquakes in San Francisco would not stop him getting the galleries’ exhibits to the fairs on time.

The second (failed) attempt at retiring came in 1993 when we decided to cycle across the US. Chris ran the trip like he ran his shipping of exhibitions: ridiculously early starts, daily schedules and targets, the research to find reasonably priced motels en route and never-ending search for restaurants that served fresh fish and a good white wine.

On returning to the UK we decided to set up a fine art shipping service that would be based around the art fairs - with a £10,000 overdraught facility, an immense amount of work and the loyalty of a few galleries and clients that took a leap of faith in us we managed to succeed.

Third time lucky… Chris did manage to retire in 2016, buying and then renovating his dream home in Greece and finally finding his fresh fish and good white wine.

He died, his partner and family around him at the end, on December 18, 2023. Mentor, father to my son and true friend, he will be hugely missed by us all.

From Rachel Rauchwerger