The Cult and the Collector

December 2019
Huon Mallalieu

…remarkable pieces gathered by Oliver Hoare, from a Persion poem to a Dalí-inspired sofa and Ottoman tongs, sell at Christie’s

He dealt in dreams and stories, as well as beautiful things, and he collected people, as well as objects of art.  I first met him at a boxing match in my first term at Oxford.  Oscar Wilde’s grandson, Merlin Holland, was fighting and ill-mannered taunts from Cambridge supporters provoked him to KO his opponent.  Later, Hoare gave me excellent advice when I joined Christie’s; we were never particularly close, but it was always a delight, for me at least, to run into him in the years since then.

He set up Christie’s Islamic department and, although later, as dealer and adviser, his eye for quality and the curious led him in many directions, Iran – or should one say Persia? – remained at the heart of his activities.  As The Art Newspaper justly said after his death last year: ‘Though occassionaly controversial – and sometimes sailing close to the wind – Oliver Hoare was remembered overwhelmingly for his extraordinary warmth and charisma.’

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