Property and Art


Apollo magazine had a fascinating article on property investor David Lewis, who started buying art in the 1970’s and now has an incredible collection worth in excess of £300 million. The collection is the subject of two large volumes entitled ‘The Schorr Collection, Catalogue of Old Master and Nineteen-Century paintings’. His art is on loan to museums: regionally, nationally and internationally. It is even on loan to the Palace of Westminster. Oh, I wish I had David Lewis as my mentor, but despite a long career in property, I never met him. Instead of art, my eyes have always been focused on the three ‘C’s: Cartier, Chopard and Chanel.  Property is a main love of mine but I am always reminded of the fact that in 1917 pearls were so valuable that Cartier swapped a two-strand pearl necklace for its Fifth Avenue headquarters. In property terms they had a very good deal.

After reading the article on David Lewis, I resolved to mend my ways and concentrate on Art.  I wanted to look at the very best by visiting Masterpiece London, the Art, Antique and Design Fair currently on show in the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. The Fair has been running annually for the past five years with the wonderful Nazy Vassegh as Chief Executive who has bought real ‘flair to the fair’ and has created a truly magnificent home for the very best in Art, Antiques and Design.  I was in the right place to improve and cure my lust for jewellery too. The inspired decision to include my favourite restaurants: Scott’s and La Caprice as the exhibition’s ‘cafés’ is very clever. Style does not come better than that.

With exhibitors from all over the globe, here was the perfect opportunity for my magpie habit of collecting all things glittery, small and expensive to be cured. My first step before studying the paintings was to visit Sandra Cronan to thank her for my invitation, Sandra looked so elegant wearing the most amazing pair of earrings and her stand effervesced with the most astonishing vintage pieces including an incredible tiara. My resolve was gone, looking at paintings was pushed out of my mind and I was back down the sparkling road of jewels and gems.

Next, I headed to Hancocks. Founded in 1849, they are one of the finest emporiums for antique and estate jewellery. I adore their shop in Burlington Arcade, my nose is frequently pressed against their window, and the nearest I have got to handling their treasures was at a Joanna Hardy master class. Cartier took centre stage on their stand, alongside beautiful treasures from the art deco period and a museum quality bracelet from 1904. I turned down their kind offer to ‘try something on’ – far too dangerous to even consider.

Slinking past the paintings and furniture I hunted down the Symbolic & Chase stand. After last year’s exhibition of the Mary Tudor pearl it would be difficult to find other treasures that would equally surprise and delight, but the clever jewellers had managed to create another blockbuster. If there were an award for the best stand, they would win it hands down. It was amazing; a real jewellery tour displayed incredible pieces from every decade of the last century. You could imagine the Duchess of Windsor in SuzanneBelperron’s ring from 1940 and Elizabeth Taylor in Bulgari or the Van Cleef & Arpels ‘inseparables’ ring.

Symbolic & Chase believe jewellery should be viewed as Art. With this in mind, a great weight was lifted from my shoulders. I could gaze on the marvellous glittering and glowing creations shining under the Masterpiece lights and not feel guilty that art was shimmering on my fingers and not decorating the walls.

Masterpiece continues until 2nd July 2014 and we will post another report after the Marie Curie Gala evening on Monday 30th June.

Tricia Topping