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Back to the Past

Fabulous old stuff benefits youth at the 27th San Francisco Fall Antiques Show

It was, indeed, a return to the classics at Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion last week for the Patrons' Preview Party of the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show benefitting Enterprise for High School Students (EHSS).

Soft lighting and well-appointed booths awaited well-heeled patrons who crammed the joint in order to get first-dibs on great stuff.
Heck, even the Ladies' loo was tricked out this year with plush carpet and bookcases stacked with show catalogs.

"I wanted every space to be welcoming and elegant," said Kimberly Bakker, taking her first at-bat this year as the show's new director.

"EHSS really has philanthropy at the core of this event," said another newbie (well, at least in matters of chairmanships), Dr. Seth Matarraso. "They are so well-organized and well orchestrated, it's my great pleasure to work with the Antiques Show."

Building Small: Antique Architectural Models, featured exquisite miniatures of grand old buildings that were curated by Maria Santangelo (a consultant of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Fine Arts Museums) and set atop appropriate staging designed by architect Andrew Skurman.

"These very classical works are also appropriate," enthused Santangelo, "As this year is the 500th anniversary of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio!"

Suzanne Tucker, Chairwoman of the Designers' Circle, ably corralled her brethren who, she said, were thrilled with the show's look and feel (and goods) as they guided their clients around for a looky-loo.

"Now," she teased, of the viewing opps, "We all just hope our clients do as they're told!"

Well even if they weren't writing checks, they were eating. Especially as this beloved Fall soiree has long been known as one of the best cocktail noshes in town.

"We've got 2,200 guests so that equals 4,400 bones," explained McCall's Executive Chef Lucas Schoemaker of his lusted-after lamb chops.

And for deep-pocketed patron who ponied up $5K for a Connoisseurs Circle ticket, that allowed access to great goods at 4 p.m. as well as the chance to dip into mounds of caviar.

"Fifty pounds to be exact," said Schoemaker. "Every year, this party has the largest single-night caviar consumption in the continental United States."

Almost 70 international dealers set up their wares including Axel Vervoordt from Belgium, Iliad Antik of New York and Prague, London's Robert Young Antiques, the oh-so-cool Obsolete Gallery down-state in Venice and our very own Hedge, John Berggruen Gallery and Ed Hardy Antiques.

And God bless the venerable B.B. Steinitz Galerie of Paris. Year-after-year, this salon of suave pitches it Antiques Show tent in the same location (the right-hand corner at the very back of the Festival Pavilion) and remains so old school (and tres cher), they've yet to develop an internet presence.

Christian Huebner, a Peninsula designer and Preview Party veteran, was cautiously impressed: "But I'll be very interested to know what the exhibiting dealers think on Sunday!"

Come Sunday, there was iron-clad proof that the best Rx for a troubled economy is a little retail therapy: both Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Speaker Nancy Pelosi were spotted strolling the aisles.

"Mum" was the word as to whether the two Dem dynamos whipped out their checkbooks. But someone was definitely shopping. The Antiques Show usually nets $2-3 million at the Preview Party. Yet even in the midst of this wobbly and downwardly erratic market, designer Paul Wiseman was pretty sure this year's opening night still managed to snag a cool $1 mil.

In fact considering this SRO crowd, it seemed more than apropos that the lecture series (sponsored by Sothebys' with the support of Sue Fisher King) featured a talk by Kenneth Lapatin of the J. Paul Getty Museum titled, Lifestyles of the Rich and Roman: Luxury Arts in the Villas of Pompeii.

Or ... in San Francisco, sweetie.

See photos from this party