A Rare Collection: Exclusive Insider with Curator Vicky Xu
So how is it possible to source such remarkable, historical and personal pieces that could have been lost long ago with time? Founder of Areteos, CEO and curator Vicky Xu talks to us about discovering her passion, the story behind some of the rare items in the upcoming showcase and her years of work in hunting down rare treasures in order to complete her incredible collection.
How did you discover your passion for collecting artifacts and memorabilia?
From a very young age, I started to collect artifacts that speak to me. I have had a deep passion and interest in history and culture since I was in junior high school. I am particularly fond of black and white movies from the 30's to the 60's and I used to collect old books and poems from early on. I love the delicate covers, the artistic fonts, the sensation and the wisdom in each chapter and story.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
My family and my three children –this is my lifetime career now. Besides that, I am the founder and CEO of Areteos Family Office, which serves HNWI on asset management, family affairs and lifestyle lanning. After having my own family and children, I would say the highlight for me is to help other families to obtain better opportunities and to help create a better quality of life.
What inspired you to start the UK Prime Minister collection five years ago?
I lived in the UK for 10 years and I do feel a deep connection to that country's history and culture. It's like an addiction, once you have collected a few you want to complete it.
What is the concept behind this particular showcase?
As a big fan of history and culture, I want everyone to be able to find "The One" in his or her heart. It's very personal and these items will only become rarer.
Which piece is your favourite in this collection? Why?
Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel, because Coco Chanel herself is not only a pioneering fashion icon, she also changed the lifestyle of women, liberating us from the constraints of the "corseted silhouette". The other reason why it is one of my favourites is because of the story behind it. Coco burned most of her personal letters and books before she died, so this makes it extremely difficult to find her signature. A short –hand-written love letter of Coco sold at auction for USD 450,000. The current signature in our memorabilia collection was obtained from a private German collector. The signature was originally owned by a good friend of hers, who was invited to a home gathering of Coco. After a few drinks Coco was very relaxed and happy and she signed her signature of "Gabrielle Chanel with a fountain pen. Her friend folded the paper before the ink fully dried. It creates a beautiful flower like mirrored signature. Also the frame is hand crafted with very fine wood from Italy, which makes it even more prestigious.
Another piece I like very much is Audrey Hepburn's. I love old black and white movies and she is an icon of Hollywood's Golden Age – an amazing actress! It's a personal attachment to her movies that makes it very special piece to me.
Which is the rarest item that will be displayed?
Definitely "The Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom Collection (1721-2016)". It's huge in size and the time and effort to collect such a full set of original autography is immense. The collection must be complete, you just can't miss one in between.
How do you go about sourcing such rare items?
My team and I travel around the world to look for rare and meaningful signatures. It is like a treasure hunt or an adventure story. Most of the signatures were collected from private collectors and international auction houses. Our US-based curator then creates a theme and puts the autography and photos into handcrafted photo frames. Luckily, I have a very experienced and dedicated partner, Millionaire Gallery, in the US. They make sure everything is displayed in the right place and in the right way.
As this is the first time you are showcasing this collection here in Hong Kong, why did you pick here?
The collection has already been showcased in New York, London and Dubai. I chose Hong Kong as the first venue in East Asia because Hong Kong itself is very cosmopolitan. It has large numbers of Chinese, Asian, American and European visitors and the collectors here are much more sophisticated. It's the obvious place to start.
Our next exciting challenge is to compile a comprehensive collection of Presidents of the United States of America. The UK Prime Ministers collection took us five years and I am looking forward to this even bigger project.
Also, the current collection is very western focused. I aim to broaden this concept to include Chinese and Asian legends.
To find out more information about the Areteos Historical Concept exhibition, contact your Lifestyle Manager.