PaperCity Magazine

November 2014 - Houston

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 57 of 79

W O R D S B Y R E B E C C A S H E R M A N . P R O D U C E D B Y J E N N Y A N T I L L P H O T O G R A P H Y J A C K T H O M P S O N . WORKS For Tony Bradfield, who co- owns Tenenbaum & Co. estate jewelry with life partner Kevin Black, it's all about the story. "Being in the estate business, jewelry is a part of every culture and country," he says. "Nobody knows where grandma's shoes are, but everyone knows where her engagement ring is. It's inherited and passed down, while other things are discarded. Along with what's passed down come the stories and history." Tenenbaum & Co. — which the couple purchased in 2010 from renowned Houston jeweler Louis Tenenbaum — sells the kind of fine family baubles and decorative collectibles that come with traceable provenance: diamonds and gemstones from Harry Winston and Van Cleef & Arpels, an 1810 peacock vase from Tiffany Studios, a 1923 bronze and sterling equestrian trophy from Heinze. "If it's by a famous maker, the history — where it was made, where it was sold and who bought it — is all there. It's interesting to see how a piece can be purchased in Paris, travel to Asia and end up in the U.S. 80 years later," says Bradfield, who apprenticed at the age of 17 with Louis Tenenbaum's brother, Dan Tenenbaum, in California. "It was more a hobby back then," he says. Twenty-seven years later, his vocation has evolved not only into a thriving business but a lifestyle. Not surprisingly, the couple's home — a four-year-old contemporary in east Montrose designed by custom builder Fulton Davenport (one of five single-family homes in a compound on Welch Street) — is filled with art and artifacts that convey a rich narrative of experiences. Many of the pieces were picked up during global jaunts: Black, who hails from South Texas,was an oral surgeon in the Air Force; Bradfield, who was born in Australia, grew up in southeast Asia "where every village had a shrine," he says. "They worked a lot in bronze, creating bigger-than-life sculptures of Buddha." This ignited his passion not only for bronze but also for over-scaled art. "I buy my art by the pound," he jokes. Kidding aside, he adds, "I like space and the scale of things. We didn't have time to design and build a home — been there, done that — so when we walked in, wham! We knew everything we already had in storage would work." With three floors, two mezzanines and varied ceiling heights that soar from eight to 20 feet, the residence easily accommodates the couple's biggest and heaviest acquisitions, including a restored 1931 Steinway grand piano (procured from an old Boston estate), a 200--year-old German santos that stands more than four feet tall (carved from a single piece of wood) and a poster bed, fashioned by an artist who owed Bradfield rent money, out of antique wrought-iron fence posts from Canada "that weighs a ton," he says. "Some of the things I own are worth money, others are not, but most are from recognized foundries or artists," he says of his collection of bronzes, which include a dashing pair of gilded bronze Art Deco floor candlesticks — weighing 120 pounds each — that was retrieved from a church in Chicago designed by legendary architect Louis Sullivan. For years, Bradfield coveted a six-foot-tall 1925 bronze nude by Italian artist V. Roselli, "which I couldn't afford at the time," he says. When the dealer who owned the statue wanted a piece that Bradfield had recently purchased, Bradfield convinced him to make a swap. It now resides in his living room. "Patience pays off," he says. So, what does it mean when almost everything you own takes a crane — or at least a team of muscled men — to move it into place? Bradfield mulls the question over for a split second, then posits, laughing, "I think maybe my collection is trying to tell me to stop moving around so much, FOR TENENBAUM & CO. ESTATE JEWELERS KEVIN BLACK AND TONY BRADFIELD, HOME IS WHERE THE HISTORY IS. COLLECTED In the hall, works by Franco Mondini Ruiz and Randy Peyton, plus early black-and-white photographs including some original Goldbeck panoramas. From left, Tony Bradfield and Kevin Black with Jackson

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - November 2014 - Houston