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NATHALIE'S VIP PORTRAIT *
Leading antique dealer in Paris
There is art and art, just as there are antiques and antiques. On the one hand you have the conventional antique dealers and then on the other you have the Kugel family. More precicely: Nicolas and Alexis Kugel. Their fine establishment is not only the first choice of museums and royal families but also wealthy private collectors.
The company was founded in Russia by their great-great-grandfather Elie Kugel. At the end of the 18th century Elie was a collector of clocks and watches and persuaded his son Joseph to become a clock repairer and he subsequently went on to deal in both clocks and antique silver and jewellery. His grandson Matias, Nicolas' and Alexis' grandfather, was also an antiques dealer in Minsk and St Petersburg. Their father Jacques, who was born in Russia in 1912, emigrated to Paris in 1924 and established his business first in the rue Amélie and then in the rue de la Paix after the war, specialising in silver and gold boxes. Jacques expanded the business to deal in fine furniture, works of art and sculpture.
Jacques Kugel opened the highly prestigious gallery at rue Saint-Honoré in 1970, building his reputation and acquiring important clients from around the world. Nicolas and Alexis Kugel took over the gallery when Jacques died in 1985 and have continued the family tradition of sourcing the finest antiques and works of art to be found anywhere.
We are an old, established family business. My brother and I are the fifth generation of antique dealers. My great-great grandfather was a clockmaker in Minsk. Besides his clockwork business however, he had already started dealing with antiques.
A family with a long line of tradition. No other gallery can boast such a unique collection. Recently they moved with their gallery to the left bank of the Seine but when I visited France's most prestigious and venerable antiques dealers, they were still in in 279 rue du Faubourg Saint Honore. With great pride, Alexis Kugel showed me around....
This is a pair of gold-plated silver mirrors from the Dresden throne room. The other four remained in the castle and were destroyed during the bombing of 1945.
Only the world's largest art museums or a handful of collectors can afford the objects on display here. Another highlight: a 1710 cabinet that was built by Louis XIV's cabinet-maker and belonged to a prominent French courtier and collector.
This enormous cupboard came from Hubert de Givenchy. We bought it directly from him. It was not only the nicest piece from his (former) collection, but also the very first piece he ever bought. And here you can see a square fortress with turrets and small gates. It contains an exceptional game with silver figures which were made in Augsburg in 1781. They represent the Austrian raiding party.
Alexis Kugel acquired the chess figures at the Thurn and Taxis auction in Regensburg - and found their “box” quite by chance in Italy. The impressive game at an equally impressive price is truly unique. And there is much more to see...
That is a stone table from Rome. It was made towards the end of the 16th century. It was just a terrific chance that we found an enlargement of it. The photograph is unfortunately of poor quality.
The photograph shows the doges of Venice , the former owners of the extraordinary object. Mr. Kugel is unwilling to speak about the future owner of such valuable objects. One can only guess which foreign statesman or millionaire film star it is. This discreet businessman does not reveal names.
We have a very special relationship with one customer. He always comes the day after we have offered him something on the phone. And in all these years, he has never once left without taking the object with him.
In September 2004 Galerie J. Kugel moved to Hôtel Collot, an important neo-classical building in the heart of Paris. It was built for Jean-Pierre Collot (1764-1852), the director of the French Mint, in 1840 by Louis Visconti (1791-1853), the most famous architect of his time in Paris. Nicolas and Alexis Kugel recently acquired Hôtel Collot and it has now been magnificently restored to its original splendour by the architect Laurent Bourgois working with the renowned interior designer François-Joseph Graf. Galerie J. Kugel's magnificent new premises are situated on the left bank of the Seine near the Musée d'Orsay and opposite the Tuileries gardens.
Visitors to Hôtel Collot will find an astonishing array of major pieces dating from the medieval period and the Renaissance to the 1850s, each selected not only for its rarity, authenticity and state of conservation but also for its quality, intrinsic beauty, provenance and historical significance. Among them will be magnificent silver such as a pair of royal tureens made for George III by Robert-Joseph Auguste, Paris, 1778-80, and two monumental silver-gilt two-branch mirrors from the throne room of Augustus the Strong in the Residenz Castle in Dresden.
A real passion knows no bounds. Some people have even been known to sell their Rolls Royce to buy a Kugel object.
Galerie J. Kugel
25 Quai Anatole France; F -
Tel: +33 (0)1 42 60 86 23;
Fax: +33 (0)1 42 61 06 72
Opening Hours :
Monday to Friday
10.00am. to 1.00pm - 2.30pm to 6.30pm
Saturday by appointment
SPECIAL FEATURE INDEX
* This special feature "Alexis Kugel" has been one of more than 200 VIP-Portraits, produced by Nathalie Gütermann for her TV-Shows 'Nathalie's Lifestyle' and 'Nathalie's Art of Living' that were broadcasted between 1990 - 2003 in Germany and in 15 countries world-wide. The content has been updated with actual information in 2004 for Nathalies-Lifestyle.com © 1990 - 2004. The reproduction or other use of any text, photographs, etc. needs the prior written permission of the Chief Publisher.