Interview with Allan Anawati (Medusa Ancient Art Ltd)
Wikicollecting presents an interview with Allan Anawati, proprietor of Medusa Ancient Art Ltd.
1) What first made you fall in love with antiques?
My love is for antiquities. My passion falls to objects that embrace the cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, the early civilizations of the modern Middle East, and especially ancient Egypt. Although I grew up surrounded by antiquities, I received my first antiquity as a gift from a family friend on my fifteenth birthday. It was a Near Eastern pipe and a Roman oil lamp. I was told that once, thousands of years ago, people used these objects, since then I was amazed.
2) What is the best collecting advice you've ever received?
Buy fewer but better examples.
3) How did you get started as a professional dealer?
My grandfather was a collector, my father's cousin is an Egyptologist. I grew up surrounded by my father's passion for ancient art, mainly Egyptian. With the knowledge that my father shared with me over many years, I started with two objects, a large library of books, and a passion.
4) What is your most treasured find?
It would have to be the Egyptian gold, lapis lazuli, and red jasper cloisonné plaque from the Middle Kingdom period. It's the finest example I have ever seen and I own it for my personal collection.
5) What makes your company different?
Half the battle is finding the objects, the other half is research and finding the right home for it. We travel every month on buying trips, we update our online catalogue every month. We guarantee and stand behind all objects we sell. We work hard to make sure all of our customers are satisfied with their objects. We suggest, guide, and assist our collectors to find the right object for their collection.
6) What are your particular areas of expertise?
Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Near Eastern, South Italy, Hellenistic, and Byzantine.
7) How has the antiques business changed since you started out?
Regulations have changed significantly, provenance today is as important as the object. The amount of genuine objects on the market has decreased, while the amount of forgeries have increased tenfold, if not more.
8) Where do you see the industry in five year’s time?
It will be much harder to find objects on the market therefore increasing the prices significantly. Most private collectors are holding onto their objects. In the past, collectors would turn over their collections, but not as much today.
9) If you could own any antique in the world, what would it be?
There are numerous objects but one that I love is the Met museum fragment face of a Queen in yellow jasper from the Amarna period. It is not large, or very impressive to a novice or amateur, and it is broken. All that remains is a set of lips with the upper left-side lip partially damaged, but it is undoubtedly the nicest lips in antiquity.
10) Do you have any advice for budding young (or old) collectors out there?
Buy books, lots of them. Visit museums regularly, meet with curators and feel free to ask questions. Learn the field that interests you the most. Buy fewer but better examples.