Patricia Milne-Henderson's collection of books on Coins, medals and antiquities is currently on sale in Sotheby's first online auction in the UK. Here, she shares her favourite moments from a life and career in collecting these rare and fascinating objects.
PARIS – A businessman who introduced American-inspired shopping centres to France with impressive success and a dedicated polo player whose team was a three-time winner of Deauville’s Coupe d’Or, Hungarian-born French tycoon Robert Zellinger de Balkany collected art and objects with the same energy and panache with which he approached life. De Balkany (1931–2015) married twice, first to a French ambassador’s daughter, Geneviève François-Poncet, and then to Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, daughter of Italy's last king, Umberto II. A flamboyant tycoon, de Balkany, who enjoyed yachting, also built his own polo field at his château, Sainte-Mesme, and invited top teams from all over the world to play there (he once declared, “Polo is a lifestyle more than a sport”). He filled his Paris town house, the magnificent Hôtel de Feuquières in the Rue de Varenne, with English and Italian paintings, furniture and silver of royal provenance, books and works of art which he collected for over 50 years.
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