Christopher Forbes and Dr. Jeffrey Lant. Two connoisseurs in ebullient conversation about life, money, collecting, and the joy of MORE!
F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The very rich are different from you
and me”… Come see for yourself.
Read about it in Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s latest book “We’ll always have Paris.”: A story of wealth, obsessions, and the emperor’s ransom collected and dispersed by Christopher Forbes, connoisseur at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E0ZG9SW#nav-subnav
Kip is the Maecenas of our drab, mediocre, second rate days.
(In case your Roman history is rusty, the good Maecenas has come
down from the time of Octavius Caesar as a byword for a wealthy,
generous and enlightened patron of the arts… and so say all of us
Motor cycle hot shot.
I first became aware of Kip’s joyful family when I was a student at
Harvard. Father Malcolm (1919-1990) was a motorcycle fanatic. He was
indeed the leader of the pack as they gathered at the end of Holyoke
Street where I resided in what were credited as the apartment of
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s valet. With this splashy opening le tout
Harvard Square knew when this impresario, this imp of the unpredictable
was in town. Here was a man who knew how to generate buzz, lots
of buzz, and keep ’em smiling, sugar.
I advise my students that if they want a guarantee they’ll be rich
and comfy they should carefully select just the right parents,
and here Malcolm’s two sons (Steve, born 1947 and Christopher,
born 1950) showed they got the message.
Daddy was rich, granddaddy (a Scottish emigrant with a slew of relations
in the noble Clan Forbes) was rich… get the picture? The key
wasn’t just making money, it was having fun while keeping what
they got and getting more.
Neither for the father nor the sons was wealth a matter of grim drudgery
and punishing responsibilities. They knew that wealth must mean
happiness or its cost is too high. Wealth was never their master; always
their servant. To be around a Forbes is to feel joy and experience their
kindness in sharing. They resurrect in themselves the penetrating phrase
“Noblesse oblige”, an aspect of wealth no wealthy person can afford to
forget or postpone, even if what can be given is no more than the widow’s
“Ars longa. Vita brevis.” Kip, the Emperor, and high collecting adventure.
My challenge now is to get you to attend my very special tete a tete
with Kip. Knowing him as I do I can promise you it will deliver some of
the most enlightening moments of your life, during which you will see
how Kip salvaged the tarnished reputation of the “forgotten” emperor
Napoleon the Third (reigned 1852-1870) by ordering four days of
non-stop auctioneering at the highest and most ostentatious level’; in
other words pure Forbes and as such followed with breathless interest
by connoisseurs worldwide. Come to the program and add yourself to their
Christopher Forbes spills the beans on life, lore, love and lavish living in
conversation with Dr. Jeffrey Lant.
then check out the Forbes auction March 5, 6 & April 9. For catalogs of the over 1,300 items featured
go to www.osenat.com Each of the four catalogs commences with
fascinating details about the Forbes, Kip, and his stupendous
imperial collection, now available to you.
For general information go to www.writerssecrets.com where you
can find the video of this program after it is recorded. While
there, check out Dr. Lant’s new memoirs, “The Connoisseur’s Journey,
Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit discernment, pluck and joy.”
Proudly presented from www.writerssecrets.com Article Series.
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
Author’s program note. One of the loveliest songs ever written, short though it is, was composed by Stephen Sondheim for his 1962 musical “A funny thing happened on the way to the forum.” It’s called “Lovely”, and he wrote both book and music.
The song only lasts for 2 minutes and 28 captivating seconds… but once you’ve heard it even a single time it will circulate throughout your brain for life. It’s the kind of song that forces you to create situations where you can sing it, use it. For instance, I have recommended singing it to your Significant Other the very minute you come home this evening… always accompanying your admittedly croaky voice with flowers, candies, and ardent declarations delivered on one arthritic knee. That Significant Other will no doubt gibe, giggle, and give every indication of busting a gut laughing, but they’ll be touched to the core. And Sondheim, a master in every way, wrote it for just that.
Go now to any search engine and let the music frolic around you. You cannot be anything other than happy, for you see you are the person Songheim celebrated in this tune…
… You that is and every object desired by every single connoisseur and collector on earth. And that, given the incessant collectors we are, is just about everyone.
I am what is called a connoisseur, that is a master of matters artistic and of taste… the kind of person who can say with credibility of any object on earth just what is, and even more important, what is not of value to civilization. It is back breaking work, what with millions of artifacts to find, subject to minute scrutiny, and, the object passing the most stringent of tests, arranging the contortions, financial and otherwise, which lead to acquisition and a lifetime of unadulterated love (with dollops of shrewdness and cleverness to sweeten the mix.)
This process, for me, begins with a catalog from any of the great auction houses on earth… with names like Sothebys! Christie’s! The Dorotheum! Et al, great and small. These produce the siren songs that capture my attention and cause me endless nights of torment and insistent cogitation… these are the places, the very holiest of holies for connoisseurs, that wreck havoc in the minds and pocket books of even the most well heeled on earth. And of course these long-standing institutions with instantly recognizable names (at least to connoisseurs) are expert at catching their fish (that would be you and me, dear friend) and keeping them on their gilded hook c. 1250 A.D. once the property of the Queen of Bohemia. Look at yourself in the mirror and remember: you are about to go fishing in the most teeming waters on earth where your expertise will be tested against the very best… whose skills, wiles, courtesies and insights have been honed over centuries… all designed to capture you… the unceasing object of their potent desires.
Catalogs you pay for, versus catalogs hand endorsed and wafted to you.
When I began collecting so many years ago, the Internet was not dreamed of, much less a universal factor of life. And so collectors like me had to rely on the sales catalogs produced by the many divisions of the major houses. If you have never seen such a catalog you will not understand that these in no way resemble the short and flimsy cousins produced by, say, companies selling roasted meats. No indeed. These companies share a word… but nothing more. For the auction house catalogs are nothing short of the erudite and lavishly photographed “coffee table” books of yore, with only one difference: in these catalogs every single thing is for sale, could be yours, and which you are allowed, indeed encouraged to want… fervently, wildly, devotedly. Yes anything, everything could be yours… for a price.
In the beginning of course, when these long-established houses (with the grandest dating from the 18th century) do not know you, you must pay for the privilege of getting a catalog. And, as if to warn you about what is to follow, even these catalogs are steeply priced, at $50 or more each.
But when you are that all-important entity — a demonstrated connoisseur — you may request any catalog for free… or, when you are more well-known, too, specialists will send you their latest, a card enclosed with their compliments. One such specialist so beguiled yesterday sent me the latest sales catalog from Sotheby’s Amsterdam, for they have sales from noble and royal houses which beguile me, and regularly seduce me from the thrifty ways of my plain-living, luxury abhoring Puritan ancestors. They look down on me now with disdain and disapproval… But that is their problem, not mine.
“I’m lovely. All I am is lovely.”
No one can aspire to being a connoisseur without the “eye”; that is the practiced ability to perceive, not just to see, an item. This is the work of a lifetime… for, you see, ages previous to ours did not have just or only masters; there were many lackluster crafts people… and, such is fate… they often survived where the superior productions of their more gifted brethren may not. Yes, Fate is fickle that way.
To develop your eye requires incessant labor… the willingness, indeed the desire, or better yet, the obsession… to examine, scrutinize, and, at all times, improve your ability to know what you are looking at, and why it either is or is not worthy of… you. This all starts when an item you see in a sales catalog, or on the Internet, looks at you (for the object most assuredly selects you, as much as being selected by you)… when, I say, that item looks at you and says without any modesty at all… “I’m lovely. All I am is lovely. Lovely is the one thing I can do…”
But is this claim true… or merely a ruse… to ensnare you? This is where you must have help… or you are on the way to a very expensive mistake, a mistake which is almost always avoidable if you do your homework; which entails finding, listening to, and following the advice of experts who have spent a lifetime perfecting skills and knowledge you don’t have but which you desperately need right now. Such experts can be acquired, first, from the auction houses themselves and then by referral from the auction houses.
Direct, candid, honest to a fault.
One of the most gratifying and unexpected things you’ll learn as you develop as a connoisseur is the honor and honesty of experts. Their candor is a by-word and rare in our world of mendacity and practiced deceits. In short they tell the truth. And no matter how thoroughly you mature as a connoisseur you will always rely on it… as I do. My chief support is London-based Simon Gillespie, conservator of paintings, friend, goad, willing ear, magnificent eye. Sometimes he brings possible acquisitions to me; sometimes I to him. In the case of the striking floral still life pictured above, by Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer (1636-1699) it was, first, my find; then after Simon’s review, very much his as well. The song sung by this lovely painting by one of the greatest masters, had not been sung in vane. I had taken the bait… as how could I not… for I already knew the man and his work; one of his magnificent ouevres was mine already, hung here to enliven the gray winter days of Cambridge… and never anything other than winsome.
Thus the duet.
Each object, every artifact which could be collected must sing out about its merits, particularly when those merits are not immediately apparent and only as a result of some master conservator’s ministrations, the work of a Simon Gillespie, absolutely essential to the long-term value and preservation, for such necessary experts see below the damages, scarred surfaces and problems which accrue in these objects over time — and these were immense and challenging in the new Monnoyer. In short, they see the “lovely” in items anything but. And the lucky ones (for they are lucky indeed) are snapped up (often at bargain prices), about to be returned to their original condition, a thing of beauty, a joy forever.
And it is the connoisseur who makes that decision (always after soliciting the best advice) and makes the necessary investment of time, money, patience, and belief. And who then is more than qualified to sing back to the object of his affection these words by Sondheim:
“You’re lovely, Absolutely lovely. Who’d believe the loveliness of you?”
I would. I did. And now it is mine, “Radiant as in some dream come true.”
Your comments on this article are invited, post your comments below.
Dr. Jeffrey Lant is known worldwide. He started in the media business when he was 5 years old, a Kindergartner in Downers Grove, Illinois, publishing his first newspaper article. Since then Dr. Lant has earned four college degrees, including the PhD from Harvard. He has taught at over 40 colleges and universities, quite possibly the first to offer satellite courses. He has written over 20 books, thousands of articles and been a welcome guest on hundreds of radio and television programs. He has founded several successful corporations and businesses including his latest at …writerssecrets.com
His memoirs “A Connoisseur’s Journey” have garnered five prizes that ensure its classic status. Its subtitle is “Being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck, and joy.” A good read by this man of so many letters. Such a man can offer you thousands of insights into the business of becoming a successful writer. Be sure to sign up now and get a copy of his memoir at http://writerssecrets.co
His new model at Writers Secrets.com helps people to get their messages and stories out to the world! Find out more at: http://writerssecrets.com
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