Design & Decoration S03 ep10 : Philippe Perrin, Perrin Antiques, [Paris]
Interview with Philippe Perrin
Founder Jacques Perrin and his son Philippe specialize in exceptional late 17th- to early 19th-century French furniture, painting, sculpture and decorative objects, displayed in a beautiful three-story mansion on the Place Beauvau.
It’s a family owned company that started in the 60’s with my father. I took over the company five
years ago. We’re dealing mainly in European furniture, objects, cultures, drawings and paintings.
It’s getting more and more difficult to find some very good stuff so we had to take a wider view
geographically or from a period point of view, so now we have a lot of Austrian, German, Spanish,
Italian, our main business is still the French furniture but more and more it’s getting European.
I studied law at first then I became a banker at the beginning of the 80’s for a very well known
bank, Leiman Brothers, I worked in New York, worked in London, worked in Paris for them and I
had a great time you know it was very funny, learned a lot and at a point, at one point I was
leaving Leiman Brothers to go to another bank which is called Dreyfus and something happened
and you know Dreyfus was taken over by another company so they decided that they didn’t want to
do that so I said okay you know I’ll take two free months and after a week you know when you
play golf every day you get bored so my father’s saying well I’m going to New York you know
with friends of mine for the auctions why don’t you come over so I went to New York and I bought
a little piece you know like nothing and I sold it right away, made a little money I said well, that’s
So I’ve started to work you know a little bit with my father then after a year or two we got into a
fight you know, normal, normal thing so I said you know what I’ll go on my own you know and I
had my little business for you know 10 or 15 years and five years ago he came to see me and said
you know what, I’m getting older, I don’t want to work as hard so why don’t you take over the
business. So I said okay sure, you know, but I’ll buy the company.
You don’t care about the period, you care about the object or the piece of furniture you know what
whether you like it or you don’t like or etc … and you don’t care if it’s French, Italian or German
or whatever you know it’s that’s why for example here you have a wonderful photograph by
Clifford Ross which is a great American artist who’s a friend of mine and because we’ve decided
to make a room you know with steel furniture campaign from the Napoleonic period with that.
Nobody is so knowledgeable that you can know everything, you need to have a specialty, me, my
speciality is still you know from 1650 to 1850, that’s 200 years. But now for example I deal in
sculptures, I work with the experts, you know when I have a doubt you know I work with friends of
mine which are really specialised in sculptures, same thing you know with paintings and drawings.
You know what the best part of the business, what it is, it’s to meet the people, you meet great
people. What I buy … it’s my taste and if somebody my job is to give it to somebody else and to
make it understand to somebody else you know and the emotion that I had when I bought it, I want
the person who buys it to have the same you know and that’s what my job is all about.
Internet changed the world, truly even in our business and I think it’s only the beginning. For
example before you would see something in a very small auction in the middle of nowhere and you
think you would be alone down there but now with the internet you now people track night and day
everything on internet so there’s no more surprise. There’s some websites where you can go
everywhere you know even in Argentina or in the smallest auction, there’s a picture of everything
My father sold 15 years ago a fantastic object a celadon tierch with 15 ormulu mounts, there’s two
in the world, one was for the Great Catherine and there was this one which was in an incredible
collection actually I knew the guy, he was a friend of my father, very old man, loved the guy,
great, great human person and so for three years I’ve been trying to buy that from him, you know
and I was saying doctor please sell it to me and I made him a crazy offer like you know 15 times
what he paid to my father and he was no, no, he didn’t need the money, richer than God and on the
27th of August I remember I was in the south of France having lunch with my father actually, and
he calls me and he says Phillip is your offer still available, still on, I said sure, so he said okay it’s
done and I was thrilled I said to my father great we have it, fantastic, called the bank you know we
paid him immediately, 10 days later Lehmann Brothers was down, everybody the market was
down and I was like oh my God so you know but still it’s a fantastic piece, yeah I still have it you
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Philippe Perrin, Perrin Antiques, Paris