Collecting is a beautiful disease. Insidious with no known cure. You acquire a thing. You love it. You get another thing, similar, but not the same. One day, you look around and you have a collection.
Chinese antique porcelain and Asian sacred art grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. There is something awe-inspiring about holding something in your hand that was created thousands of years ago. It lives on your fireplace mantel.
You look at it and imagine all the people who have touched it, whose lives this pot has touched, whose prayers this Buddha has heard. It’s living history.
Thus, when I had to reduce the collection, I didn’t sell anything. I split the collection and gave more than half my favorite pieces to my friends, people who I knew would treasure it as I did. How much was it worth? A lot, maybe. Or not so much. I don’t know. It was beyond price to me. Money is transitory but these precious, fragile, beautiful pieces need to be protected, to be kept safe, not sold as decorations.
A great deal of the world’s great art has been casually destroyed by governments and individuals with no reverence for art or history. War, natural disasters have contributed to reducing the number of these fragile pieces of art. If I can save a Han pot, a Qianlong vase, or a single Tibetan Buddha. I’ve saved something of value. I no longer collect, but I continue to preserve and protect.