"What interests me in an object is the emotion it gives me": jeweler Lorenz Bäumer, inspired collector

“What interests me in an object is the emotion it gives me”: jeweler Lorenz Bäumer, inspired collector

Passionate art collector – a sale of his personal collection took place at Sotheby’s last May – the jeweler Lorenz Bäumer, based on Vendome in Paris, draws his inspiration from his passions: art and nature, old drawings, photos of the Vendôme column…

Born in Washington to diplomat parents, he had a globe-trotting childhood punctuated by travel. A graduate of the Ecole Centrale de Paris, his training as an engineer made him a pioneer in the use of new materials and new techniques. In 1988, Chanel asked him to develop her jewelry. He will provide artistic direction for 20 years. In 2007, LVMH called on him for Louis Vuitton jewelry. In 2010, he created the tiara Diamond foam for the wedding of Princess Charlène Wittsock and Prince Albert II of monaco

He has also multiplied collaborations with houses (Hermès, Cartier, Piaget, Breguet, Baccarat, Guerlain…). Among its best sellers, the collection Heartbeat where the jewels are inspired by the electrocardiogram of her first child, Iolfactory rings that release fragrances as well as fine jewelry pieces such as the bracelet Gluttony exhibited at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris…

Meeting with an art enthusiast, jack of all trades, who talks about his recent auction of part of his collection cat Sotheby’s to explain to us his love of art in all its forms.

Franceinfo culture: you auctioned off at Sotheby’s last May, part of your collection. Was it the first time ?

Lorenz Baumer : This is the third or fourth time I’ve made auctions since I continue to buy to bring my collections to life. In India, it is always said that the god of creation (Shiva) is also the god of destruction. If I want to be able to add things, I have to at some point destock.

Prior to this sale, there was at home places where five layers of paintings were superimposed. There, we went to three layers! I’m ashamed to say that but sometimes I take off a layer and rediscover a work: I then say to myself, it’s really good. Saint Augustin said that “Happiness is to continue to desire what we have” but for paraphrase Sasha Guitry “the best moment of love is when you go up the stairs”, and the best in the collection is the next acquisition. I’m kind of caught between these two fires.

Are you satisfied with this sale?

Sotheby’s sold 88% – plus all the things we sold after “after sale” -, that is to say that we must be at about 95%. It’s very rare that we sell so many things. This is explained by the fact that it was not an anonymous sale: I had many of my customers who enjoyed buying things they knew and they wanted to follow my taste.

I like to make people discover things: there were both well-known signatures and unknown things that I really like. We also wanted to make things attractive with reasonable estimates. When you put reasonable estimates, we want to go even more than if it’s very expensive from the start. There were also some lots without a reserve price, which is always very motivating (note: the reserve price is a secret amount below which the lot cannot be sold).

VSow did you select these works for auction?

It’s like a dialogue between the objects and me, or between the creator who made the object and me. When objects inspire me less, it’s time to make room and move on. We always try to have what inspires us the most.

It took me a while to decide to do it (note: the auction) but once I did, I was relieved. It gave me space, I was able to breathe. Once I saw them there (note: at Sotheby’s), it was over. There are two, three, four unsold, very very few but I don’t want them to come back, I’ve done my mourning, I’ve moved on. It’s finish.

Did you auction jewelry pieces?

Yes, there were. All the pieces where there was a lot of creation – like the Ray Manta bracelet, the Treasure Island ring – sold very well but the one where there was a fairly simple setting with a large diamond, apparently the public was not the. We may have been a little ambitious in our estimates but I am very happy to get this piece back, because since the beginning of the year the diamonds have taken 30%. It is enormous.

In the case of heritage diversification, people have a little money, the stock market, real estate and also art and jewellery. It’s great to have some.

Treasure Island ring by jeweler Lorenz Bäumer (Courtesy of Lorenz Bäumer)

You are a very heterogeneous collector, have you always had this appetite?

I like lots of different things. There are times when I go to buy photos, drawings and then I shoot a bit. What unites these objects is that they speak to me, touch me. I like that there is a soul behind! I’ve always collected a lot of things, some of which have no value, like beach sand or I go surfing. When I was a kid, it was the labels of wine bottles, I had a big notebook in which I stuck them.

Is this the beginning of your life as a collector?

It is one of the first manifestations of this serious disease that I have and which is called “collecting”. After the wine labels, there were the stamps… At the moment, it’s the drawings: I’m looking for masterpieces by strangers. In the 19th century, many people produced and, from time to time, there is an extraordinary work. It amuses me to look for things that are not in the books because I am less attached to the signature or the value.

What was the trigger ?

All collectors have their story and the reason why they collect: parents collected, it was a lack, they were young and had no money and it was a way of taking revenge on their youth. For me, it’s a bit of a frenzy of dialogue with other creators. I like, for example, the objects from the Puiforcat goldsmith’s house and the story behind it: he was very religious, very religious, and he thought that the beauty and presence of God was revealed to through the geometric perfection of objects. When you look at the objects he has made, there is always a golden ratio, very beautiful, very studied proportions, which I like to look at and that inspires me for the things I do.

What is your collection made up of today?

I dare not say it but I have a bit of everything. Recently, I bought small ceramics that I find very beautiful. During the auction at Sotheby’s, I sold pieces by Jouve, who is a great ceramist of the 40s, 50s, 60s, and in fact I replaced them with these little, very funny, baroque characters. I have watches, a little bit of Art Deco silverware and quite a few drawings – because the starting point for my jewelery is always drawing – to which are added those of my children. These are framed, there are plenty of them on the walls, not to mention my collection of old frames (note: some are installed in his shop on Place Vendôme).

Two ceramic sconces by Georges Jouve sold at auction at Sotheby's (Sotheby's / ArtDigital)

What items do you hold dear the most?

The financial value does not interest me, it is the emotion that the object gives me which interests me. In number 1, sthere was a fire in my house, I would take my children’s drawings without hesitation: I love creativity through their eyes.

I will also take my beautiful amethyst table even if it is too heavy to carry under my arm. It’s a huge geode with amethyst crystals. I calculated that there are a million carats. VSis spectacular, it is the work of God. She tells what I like to do: show how nature offers us marvelously beautiful things that I try to put in majesty through my work.

The amethyst geode table in the Lorenz Bâumer boutique on Place Vendôme in Paris (Courtesy of Lorenz Bäumer)

Finally, object number 3 might be the last drawing I found. I have a very beautiful drawing of Salammbô – which I lent for an exhibition in Rouen – which is by Adolphe Cossard. He did something that I really like and that painters sometimes do: in addition to drawing, he created his frame with Egyptian motifs, something that has nothing to do with the Salammbô in Gustave Flaubert’s novel. It’s a dialogue that is very amusing. Some artists, who were very interested in the frames in which their works were presented, saw the frame and the work as a whole.

To what extent are the artists’ works a source of inspiration for your creations? Can you give me examples?

It’s a jumble of stuff I’ve seen that I use. I cannot say that there are things that were directly inspired by Puiforcat but the volumes, the geometry accompanied me. We made, for example, the friendship knife because I wanted to invent new blades. Alexandre Noll made sculptures in black ebony. We made the collection blackmagic, all in black, which highlights colored stones. For me, what puts color in majesty is white and black.

Bracelet from the Black Magic collection of the jewelry house Lorenz Bäumer (Courtesy of Lorenz Bäumer)

Also in the sale was a collection of photos of tattoos. He was a guy who was in the Nantes prison and who took pictures of the bodies of prisoners. I was inspired by his photos and I thought it would be nice to tattoo diamonds: we have developed techniques to take a design by computer and engrave it with a laser on the surface of the diamond.

Tattooed diamond ring from the jewelry house Lorenz Bäumer (Courtesy of Lorenz Bäumer)

And then there’s also this console table by American designer Paul Evans, which was also in the auction with all its facets that can be found on the stairs here (note: the boutique on Place Vendôme), but also on some jewels like the collection Mikado.

Ring from the Mikado collection of the jewelry house Lorenz Bâumer (Courtesy of Lorenz Bâumer)

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