The FT’s Peter Aspden uses the final sale of Stanley Seeger’s collectibles and house furnishings by his partner David Cone as an opportunity to contrast the collector with today’s supposedly different breed:
What surprised many about the Seeger collection was the apparent freedom and regularity with which it was dismantled. How did it feel, I ask Cone, to get rid of 88 Picassos in one go? “It felt hairy-scary. But it had a good outcome. Stanley didn’t want the pictures any more. I remember he said to me one morning, ‘Chris, will you keep your eyes open for a Rose period? That’s all I need now.’ We found one, and the collection was done. The crossword was complete.” It was time for the paintings to find new homes. […]
Melanie Clore, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, who dealt with the various sales from the Seeger collection over the years, says the two men “define what collecting is all about. They bought amazing pictures, and they bought things that they loved themselves. And that is a characteristic that defines serious collectors.
“What I thought was so clever was that because they were so private, they were also so free. Very few people knew them in the art world. They weren’t hounded everywhere they went. They bought things that gave them enormous pleasure, and really engaged with them. Their passion was addictive and compelling. And theirs was a real love affair.”
It all happened so recently yet seems to belong to a different age. The art market today is fuelled by testosterone, and thrusts itself into the public eye with merciless self-aggrandisement. Seeger and Cone played to more gentle rules.