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April 28, 2010

And His Scarf Was…

By Spear's

Prince Andrew at the Apricot Gallery, Henry Wyndham at Sotheby’s, antique jewellery at Cartier and Grace Jones at the Vinyl Factory… And that’s just what we can tell you…

Let no-one say that Hedgehog does not earn his stories: Tuesday was Traipse-day, shuttling from Bond St to Kensington, back to Bond St and then to Soho, mostly by walking in a pair of shoes designed by Satan the Bootmaker.

To dismiss chronology, the royal highlight of the day came at the opening of Apricot Gallery on Albemarle St, Britain’s first gallery of contemporary Vietnamese art. HRH Prince Andrew is a collector, having picked up a couple of Pham Luan’s highly-textured Derain-via-Hanoi land- and city-scapes on his official missions; he gave a short speech and cut a cermonial ribbon, alongside HE Mr Tran Quang Hoan, the Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK.

When I spoke to him, the Prince was looking at Le Quy Tong’s Long Bien Bridge, where you stare down a bridge (painted in sharp strokes so that it seems almost translucent yet still oppressive in its size) to the vanishing point. To my suggestion that looking down the bridge felt like staring into the future (his, mine, Vietnam’s), he burst out laughing: “These art people have some weird thoughts! It’s a bridge!” Indeed…

As communist cupcakes circulated (red icing, yellow star), HRH met Apricot’s owner, Dat Ngo, who already has other Apricot Galleries in Vietnam; the artist Pham Luan; and other Asia-related dignitaries. Asia House CEO Roddy Gow was there too, as were several British diplomats.

See pictures from the opening and works of art on show here

Yesterday’s first treat was a behind-the-scenes preview of Bond Street Culture and Heritage Week (7-13 June), when the strip’s artistic (from Sotheby’s down) and luxury (Cartier, Boucheron, Burberry et al) residents will throw open their doors and air out their archives in time for the June season in London, art fairs and all.

After a tour of Sotheby’s (where the Francis Egerton sale was happening) from art advisor Tania Buckrell Pos, Henry Wyndham, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, took time out from practising the increments to talk about Sotheby’s heritage (around since 1744, on Bond Street since 1917), why he stopped dealing and the pictures on the block he’s most loved.

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“When I left dealing in 1994, I thought the future was art fairs – and I never had the energy for fairs. A huge percentage of some people’s turnover happens at Maastricht and similar places – a lot of people are dependent on them.” In turn, this has meant “people are moving to upstairs premises”, away from galleries with fronts on Bond Street into discreet upper-storey rooms “because it’s cheaper”.

Wyndham also remarked that an up-coming Turner was one of the best pictures ever to come to Sotheby’s, on a level with the record-breaking Massacre of the Innocents by Rubens, which sold for £49.5m in 2002.

After Sotheby’s, it was down to the other end of Bond Street, the one where you can’t walk on a sunny day without being temporarily blinded by the jewels in the windows.

Cartier, which reopened last year after a six-year refurbishment, will host heritage tours during Bond Street Culture and Heritage Week, and a preview was available yesterday as Charlie, their chief archivist, talked us through some of the pieces in their Heritage Collection that had turned up in auction houses and down the back of expensive sofas.

There was a diamond choker, a buckle on thick blue grosgrain; a diamond bow from the twenties; and the most extraordinarily thin pocket watch, solid and elegant and very fashionable these days. (Even the monogram on its back was beautiful.) They revealed changing fashions yet eternal exquisite good taste and outstanding craftsmanship; the delicate panelling of the Cartier store itself (one of three “temples”, NY and Paris providing the others) testified to un certain regard for that.

There were also tantalising hints about the Cartier Archive, based in Geneva. Watch this space…

Finally, director of Riflemaker gallery and friend of Spear’s Virginia Damtsa was hosting a private view for artist Chris Levine in the Vinyl Factory last night. Levine has produced lenticular 3D images of singer and performance artist Grace Jones, Gaga before Gaga. These were holograms of great depth and subtlety, despite the roaring subject and the acid-electric colours.

More later, including pics from everything…

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