PaperCity Magazine

December 2016 - Dallas

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Page 106 of 131

Top: Magical courtyard of East & Orient. Above: In Betty Gertz's office, a set of 19th-century chairs, mid-century glass chandelier, English William and Mary chest used for filing, 18th-century botanicals, antique Aubusson rug, and pots and lacquer chests from Burma and Bangkok. Dried vines from the courtyard grow into the room. 69 a John Astin Perkins-designed estate. A large dining table with a gleaming French polish serves as a desk, and is covered in paperwork, glasses of melting ice water that she forgets are there, piles of invitations, multiple calculators with oversized buttons, and desktop accessories such as a magnifying glass and a fantastic pewter staple pull that looks like a snake's mouth with fangs. Dried vines from the courtyard have worked their way into the window and are growing along the walls and hanging from the chandelier. Over the decades, an illustrious lineup of people have come through the store — some of them even venturing into Gertz' hidden inner sanctum — including Princess Michael of Kent, whom she remembers bought a pair of Asprey ivory salt and pepper shakers. Bill Blass was a dedicated client, and some of his legendary collection of wood staircase models came from East & Orient. "The last thing he bought was when Princess Diana was coming to lunch at his house," says Gertz. "He bought elegant crystal goblets for the table. There were probably six pieces at each setting, and he put a gold BB on them." Dominick Dunne, Viscount David Linley, Mario Buatta, Mark Hampton, Bunny Williams, Charlotte Moss — they have all been loyal customers and friends. She credits Stanley Marcus, a friend of her husband's, with mentoring her in the early days and referring his friends to the store. She may not have needed much help — the Gertzes ran with their own set of international glitterati, from Moshe Dayan to Aristotle Onassis. The store's draw was Gertz's eye for unusual and rare finds, which she picked up around the world on her travels, and arranged into home-like vignettes. Her longtime association with Belgian architect/designer Axel Vervoordt was a boon, and between the two of them they cornered the market on Ming Dynasty shipwreck porcelain from the Hatcher Cargo in the 1980s. Not too long ago, a cache of forgotten Hatcher pieces was discovered in a hidden drawer; those pieces will go up for auction at Christie's in January 2017. "Unfortunately, it wasn't one of the big punch bowls," Gertz laments with a laugh, as these can fetch astronomically high prices. Some of the most noteworthy furniture on the floor, now, which one can bid on this month, include a large, late 19th- century English Chippendale style vitrine, attributed to Lenygon and Morant; an 18th-century painting by German artist Franz Werner Von Tamm; an early 18th-century black and gilt Chinoiserie secretary; and a 19th-century miniature box carved to look like a sideboard, from the collection of Mark Hampton. B efore I take my leave, Gertz guides me on a tour of the store, and she seems just as delighted by what she's seeing as I am. "I didn't realize that was still here," she'd exclaim. Or, "That's a great piece," she would say, running her hand over a gleaming surface, or lifting a latch to peer inside. Eighteen thousand square feet is too much to handle at her age, she says, and there's not a trace of regret at letting it go. "I'm glad to get rid of it," she says. "[Viscount] David Linley had dinner at my house the other day, and he said, 'Betty, things are changing for us in this business, and we've got to adapt.' He's gutting his Pimlico Road store and starting over." Gertz is starting over, too. She's considering a much smaller space in the Design District, with the hope of buying it and reopening East & Orient there. She's not sure what she will sell in the new store, but like Axel Vervoordt, she's begun investing in modern art, which she thinks will look great mixed with antiques. "It's time to look at the world with a different eye," she says. "But first, I want to take a deep breath. I think I'd like to go to Beijing for Christmas and take my grandson with me, since he speaks Chinese. I'm not sure what will follow that deep breath, but whatever it is, will be interesting."

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