When asked about his first memorable experience with the arts, Ali said that he remembered meeting a merchant with his father in 1975 who had a “fabulous deep blue mold brown Roman lotus bud type glass beaker in mint condition.” He begged his father not to leave the shop without buying it.
Ali explained why we focus on Western Ancient Art and why ancient works of art have an advantage over other areas. He described our collection as collecting “history and culture” and said that our works give people an appreciation of our common past. Collecting ancient pieces allows the collector to understand the historical perspective of the art and to see it as a “giant puzzle” which is “built over time” with every time period influencing the next. He explained that there is also a beauty achieved by what our ancestors created thousands of years ago. He explained that “these works of art seem to exude something special and bring serenity to our souls.”
Ali discussed how pleased we are to see a new generation of collectors coming to the market. He believes that the many pro-active laws and greater scrutiny have helped to create more transparency in the market. Similarly, the availability of scientific tests and the willingness of more dealers to stand behind their work are all factors enabling people to feel secure in their antique purchases.
Even an antique dealer, who grew up in this world and has handled hundreds of works, can share an excitement over specific items. Ali recounted spending an entire day in his hotel room admiring an Iberian Idol in Germany in the 1980s, and he discussed the excitement of buying Henri Pahraon’s antiquities collection in Beirut during the same period.
And, of course, it’s always fun to hear what an antique collector collects in his own home. Ali reported that he collects ancient coins, primarily Greek. He does so for their beauty, and for the fact that they were produced in small cities that were often not touched by their surroundings. He also collects Hellenistic portraits for their “unparalleled beauty and realism.”
Certainly, learning about an antique dealer’s interests and background adds depth to our own understanding of the antique world. Ali leaves us with many interesting questions. If you, too, love antiques, what was the first memory that you have with the arts? And what types of objects do you most enjoy collecting?