Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
The London and Provincial Antique Dealer’s Association called their fair this year “Objects of Desire” and they weren’t lying.
A beautiful Roman double-headed bust of Bacchus and Ariadne sold for approximately $470,000, far above estimate but far below its artistic and historical value in my eyes.
Especially since it actually has a provenance, and a rather romantic one at that. It was purchase by a British army officer in Jerusalem during World War II.
The officer, Somerset de Chair, spotted it in an antique shop opposite the King David Hotel and placed a deposit on it, arranging payment terms in case he did not return from battle.
De Chair, who served as an intelligence officer during the siege of Baghdad, subsequently returned after sustaining an injury, arranged an export licence, and shipped it to the family home at Chilham Castle in Kent as “wounded officer’s kit”.
After he died in 1995, it was inherited by his elder son, Rodney de Chair, who was the seller last week.
Elder son = crazy. (Or seriously hard up.)