Like many couples with young children, entrepreneur Drew Aaron and his wife, model Hana Soukupová have decided to simplify their lives. Earlier this year, the couple sold their grand Tudor-style estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, and now they are parting with the carefully assembled collection of modern and mid-century design that furnished it. “We’re craving something new and refreshing,” says Aaron, and to that end they have decided to “renounce their possessions and move to Nepal.” Aaron was making a comical analogy, but is serious about the lifestyle change. While Aaron and Soukupová will retain an apartment in New York, they intend to travel and spend more time at their Spanish estate in Majorca. Ahead of the sale of pieces by Charlotte Perriand, Claude Lalanne and more, Aaron talks about art, design, and the collecting philosophy he and Soukupová share.
“Renouncing your possessions and moving to Nepal.” Why do you identify with this expression and why have you decided to deaccession part of your collection?
It’s a fun analogy for serious life change that my wife and I decided to make upon starting a family. We’re craving something new and refreshing, and we want our children to grow up outside the urban environment in which we’ve been living. Both of us came from humble roots and simply want our children to grow up surrounded by nature, as we did. We love New York City and still maintain a home there and always will, but this was a life change we discussed for many years before starting a family. I certainly enjoy the finer things in life, but I’m not sure how much I would appreciate them if I had grown up surrounded by luxury. My wife has impeccable taste and appreciates beautiful art and design, but at the same time would be most happy living in a hut in Costa Rica. It’s just who she is.
CLAUDE LALANNE, POMME, 2007. ESTIMATE $150,000–200,000. JEAN ROYÉRE, CENTER TABLE, 1937. ESTIMATE $20,000–30,000. © DANA MEILIJSON PHOTOGRAPHY. © ANDY WARHOL FOUNDATION FOR THE VISUAL ARTS / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK.
How did you begin collecting? What was your general philosophy as you built your art and design collections?
I have been a collector since a very young age. It started off with coins, then baseball cards the general philosophy has never changed: it’s better to have one great piece than many average pieces. Condition and provenance are two of the most important characteristics when collecting. My wife and I have collected pieces we both believed in and carefully chose things that we loved and wanted to live with. We also considered the market’s confidence in a given artist or designer. While I may be more commercial and Hana is more artistic and abstract, we complement each other and buy things that we both love and appreciate. We also endeavoured to stay one step ahead of the market. We have spent quality time with top collectors and dealers, listening closely to what they’re currently buying, interested in and investigating. We always considered acquisitions of fine art and design as investments, making sure that designers and artist are valued by the marketplace and show great potential for rise in value in the future. Art and design have become an important and fun alternative investment. We have seen much better return on our investments in art and design than any other type of investment in the financial sector, and we get to live with beautiful pieces that have brought us joy!
HANA SOUKUPOVÁ AND DREW AARON. COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES.
How did your art and design collections evolve with time, and how do they relate to each other?
Ten years ago, we hired a brilliant designer, Mark Cunningham, who opened our eyes into the antiques and design world. We were hooked from then on. Mark would give us homework to visit different antique stores and design studios in New York and around the world. French mid-century fine design has a natural fit with contemporary art. When visiting the top art collectors we found ourselves sitting on Royère sofas, with Perriand tables and Jeanneret stools. The conversation between Prouvé and Basquiat, Royère and Warhol is such a natural fit where the art is enhanced by the elegance and sculptural beauty of the design.
What is it about French postwar design that appeals to you?
Having the opportunity to spend time in the homes of people like design dealer Patrick Seguin in Paris, where he displays the finest works of Jeanneret, Le Corbusier and Perriand alongside an array of fine art is a euphoric experience. The way he mixes art and design makes the room is both inspiring and provocative. Many pieces become one – a true installation that you just want to live and dream in. Our home, too, was curated like an ever-evolving installation in which art and design objects would shift until the pieces fell naturally into place.
What is the next chapter of your life as collectors?
We’re enjoying a very fun new chapter: spending more time outdoors and travelling around the world with our two young children. It’s about finding the right balance of living between New York and Spain and giving them the opportunity to touch a little bit of everything.
But we are far from giving up our passion for collecting art and design. We have a rustic finca hidden in the mountains of Mallorca where we hang only works created by our favourite Spanish artists. Some are well known, like Miró, but most are emerging artists like Jordi Alcaraz, Balusterous and Albert Pinya. The furnishings have an elegant, simple feel, with many of the pieces coming from Bali and mainland Spain. We are also in the process of furnishing a home overlooking the city of Palma and the Mediterranean Sea. It is the polar opposite to our rustic farmhouse. Meg Sharpe, one of the chicest designers in the world today, is creating family home that’s a fun mix of vintage retro furnishings from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, and uplifting art from emerging artists. We look forward to this truly new chapter in our life.