David Senra

February 22, 2024

Joseph Duveen: Robber Baron Art Dealer

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My top 10 highlights from The Days of Duveen by S.N. Behrman.

1.  He repeated his cardinal dictum: "When you pay high for the priceless, you're getting it cheap."

2.  Duveen noticed that Europe had plenty of art and America had plenty of money, and his entire astonishing career was the product of that simple observation. 

3.  Monopoly was his method.

4.  Certain men are endowed with the faculty of concentrating on their own affairs to the exclusion of what's going on elsewhere in the cosmos. Duveen was that kind of man.

5.  He enjoyed having the stupid side of his character emphasized; it constituted a disguise for his cleverness.

6.  His enthusiasm was irrepressible.

7.  He had a convulsive drive, a boundless and explosive furor, and a reckless contempt for works of art handled by rival dealers.

8.   Duveen had enormous respect for the prices he set on the objects he bought and sold. His clients felt better when they paid a lot. It gave them the assurance of acquiring rarity.

9.  Duveen had immense energy and drive.

10.  He was interested in practically nothing except his business.

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About David Senra

Learn from history's greatest founders. Every week I read a biography of an entrepreneur and tell you what I learned on Founders podcast