Who is Ken Leach ?
Today, I have decided to cross the Atlantic to meet Ken Leach, one the top collectors of perfume bottles, in the world. After owning an antique shop in Hollywood, Ken Leach has established himself, in Manhattan, at the Galery 47. Before this fabulous auction sale of May 5th 2017, I wanted to know more about this passionate man.
Where does this passion for perfumed flacons come from ?
It started while watching all those Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Modern Style flacons that I was able to admire and see, during the different Hollywood stars inheritance, along the fifty years of my career. I like those flacons specially as they come from owners who have kept them as they were a present from their lovers and a souvenir of happy moments.
Who are your favourite glass-makers ?
Among the numerous glass-makers, i have a preference for Lalique, Georges Chevallier from Baccarat, André Jolivet, Julien Viard and Heinrich Hoffmann from Czechia.
Where do you find the treasures for your auction sales ?
In general, the lawyers, specialized in deceased estate, or the auction houses that tell us about potential clients, without forgetting private clients such as the singers, the ballet dancers, the jet-set and the for ever collectors. That is how I was asked to choose as a deal, between Dolorès del Rio’s villa in Mexico, or her ten empty silver plated flacons representing sirens, and signed Lucien Lelong, the star’s favourite perfumer. Among them were Jabot, Indiscret, and Mon Image. So, you can imagine, that I chose with no doubt, the flacons…
Who are your collectors ?
I can say that on the whole, we have clients from 40 countries. They are equally, men and women but also couples who share the same passion for perfume flacons. Nevertheless, some women collectors are fond of flacons that were designed and concieved specially for handbags, and they can finally use again.More and more, these collectors dedicate a special place for their flacons, as a museum.
Which flacons a collector should have in his collection ?
As far as I am concerned, a collector must have le Roi soleil from Elsa Schiaparelli, designed by Salvador Dali, and created by Baccarat.
You like your flacons, but do you like perfume ?
I must admit that I never said before, butI am allergic to perfume !
What is your advice to young collectors ?
I recommend to buy a perfume flacon that makes you smile each time you have a look at it on the shelf.
Tell me about your career
I come from the South of California, where I studied sculpture, supported by my parents, provided with many artistic talents. Then, in 1960, I opened my first antique shop, called « Handlebar » which was an unusual name, situated on the Melrose Avenue, in Los Angeles It is there, that I acquired, by words of mouth, an important customer base of artists, intellectuals and starsLater, my destiny took me to establish myself in New York ; by opening the Gallery 47, with my associate, Richard Peters, famous for his Art Deco store in New York.
I advise everyone to buy his exciting and very instructive book. I have it since, 1997 and I adore it.