Buying Art & Antiques in Argentina

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By The Eclectic Eye. Platinum member

A little over a year ago, after spending most of my adult life as an Antiques dealer in New-York, I
decided, almost out of the blue, to move to Buenos Aires and start a new life here. The move was
made for personal reasons, the need for a drastic change. And I have to say, I had no idea if I could
work in the Antiques business in Argentina, what the Antiques market was like, and wether or not
I could find my place, doing what I love, the way I had years before, moving from France to the
United States.
Off course, I knew some things, like the fact that at the end of the 19 th century and the beginning
of the 20 TH century, Argentina had known a period of great wealth which produced many
millionaires, who, eager to be up to par with their European and North American counterparts,
went into an acquiring frenzy, spending their “nouveau riche” money on Fancy townhouses and
palaces designed by foreign architects, and filling them with Antiques and Art, imported by
boatload from Europe. As a matter of fact, at the beginning of the 20 th century in France, “ Riche
comme un Argentin” (rich like an Argentine) became a common phrase.
The “furious” buying of European antiques and Art started to decline in the 1930’s and rapidly
came to a halt after the second world war. With its rapid economic decline in the past few
decades, especially in the years following the crisis of 2001 Argentina became the place for
Antiques “pickers”, a place where one could easily find a bounty of belle epoque, opulent
European Antiques. After container loads were shipped abroad, by the hundreds, and as the
supply started to dry out, a few years ago, many dealers, in Europe and the united states started
saying there was nothing else to find here. Which is why I came here with no expectations
I can only imagine what the San Telmo quarter was two decades ago, full of life and bustling
shops, how many beautiful things one could find for sale at the beginning of the millennium: I was
not there…but what I can say now, after one year here, is that Argentina is still a very unique
place, in south America and the world, a bizarre place, full of surprises and incongruities ,with its
many decadent remnants of past riches, where I have found and bought an incredible bronze
sculpture, almost forgotten in the middle of the dilapidated gardens of a disaffected hotel, a
wonderful piece of silver, handed down from one generation to the next from a chambermaid
who worked, at the beginning of the 20 th century for one of the most prominent families of Buenos
Aires, and who was, after years of loyal services, given this wonderful silver item as a retirement
gift…and many other wonderful things….
One never knows what they are going to come upon here… after one year, it is what I have come
to learn…

To be continued

By The Eclectic Eye. Platinum member