Barbara and Lester Levy were the quintessential ‘collector’ couple. She, bright and always cheerful, with a sharp eye for beauty and a love of surrounding them both with objects of fascination; he, quiet and yet acutely observant, missing nothing. Lester’s business, based in Dallas, Texas, took him around the world and Barbara often travelled with him opening his eyes to the cultural side of the exotic places they visited. In Hong Kong they visited the gallery of Patrick and Ellen Wang in the Mandarin Hotel where Lester noticed a photograph of a horse that turned out to be one of Patrick’s champions. Lester, too, loved horses, and a friendship of shared passions was born.
They would visit Hong Kong to see the auctions, buy pieces with Patrick and Ellen’s guidance, and always share time at the races. Together they focussed on small and elegant early Qing Imperial wares that they lived with decorating the library of their charming home in La Jolla, California. The choice was always based on quality, but the pieces had to ‘chime’ with each other and create an overall decorative ‘whole’ that became the room they most enjoyed entertaining in. It was Barbara’s meeting with Ron Longsdorf that spurred her own special focus on the surprisingly fine wares of the late Qing reigns, often associated with the Dowager Empress Cixi, with whom, as a successful and dynamic woman herself, she clearly identified. The collection grew to such a level that she and Lester created their own secret ‘gallery’ for the group – a secret place where only the most honored guests were brought to share the scintillating colours and dazzling array.
Levy 伉儷志趣相投，是一對模範收藏家夫婦。Barbara 似乎渾身充滿耗之不竭的熱情和力量，並且擁有敏銳的審美觸覺；Lester 則生性較為安靜，但溫和的笑意掩不住洞悉一切的犀利眼神。Lester 的公司总部设在德克萨斯州的达拉斯市，他經常因公幹而环游世界，Barbara 经常和他一起旅行，讓他領會到認識一個地方的文化的重要性。Lester 當初在香港吉慶堂看到了一張駿馬的照片，於是向主人王延慶先生和他的太太問詢，結果發現其正是王先生的冠軍馬。Lester 也同樣熱愛馬，四人就這樣結下緣分，對馬匹的喜愛更是加深了這段奇妙的友誼。
Levy 伉儷會去香港觀看拍賣會，在王延慶先生和他的太太的指導下購買藏品，並總會一起參與賽馬比賽。他們專注於小而優雅的清初官窰瓷器，並用這些瓷器來裝飾他們位於加州拉霍亞家中的圖書館。他們始終基於質量來做選擇，但這些藏品必須相互「協調」，而創造一個「整體」，因此那裏成為他們最喜歡的房間。正是 Barbara 與 Ronald Longsdorf 的結識激發了她自己對於清末精美的瓷器的關注，此類瓷器常常與慈禧太后聯繫在一起，Barbara 與慈禧太后同樣作為成功而充滿活力的女性而產生共鳴。Levy 伉儷的收藏不斷擴大，以至於她和Lester 為此特別建造了自己的秘密「畫廊」——只有最尊貴的客人才有機會進入，並有幸欣賞到夫婦二人精美絕倫的藝術收藏。