Art Collecting

Six collectors share their rare purchases with us | Pro Club Bd

Sean Baker

transport specialist

Collects: vintage toy

“I travel a lot for work and I always look at thrift stores for vintage toys. I could go and buy a NIB [new in box] Optimus Prime in mint condition, but that’s no fun. I have about 500 Transformers so this is the kind of collection that deserves to be on display. But it also needs to be protected. Until I find the right way to do it, my collection is bubble wrapped and in containers. I don’t have any on my mantel or bedside table. I’m not like Steve Carell in The 40 year old virgin. I like the company of women.”

“I’m particularly interested in Russian porcelain from the Winter Palace,” says Benedict Hastings, such as the plate with a double-headed eagle in the middle (top left). “This is Russian classicism at its best.” Hastings also owns an ornate cigarette case by winemaker Louis Roederer (bottom row) and silverware (top row) made for the coronation of Alexander II.

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Benedict Hastings

antique dealer
Collects: Russian silver and decorative arts

“I am a monarchist at heart. When I moved to Washington in 1980, I went around and signed up for all the cultural events at the embassies. When I met the ambassadors’ wives, I would ask them what they collected and they would show me around their collections. In the 1930s, the Soviet government was still selling off the treasures of Imperial Russia. This allowed Marjorie Merriweather Post to purchase her Imperial Fine and Decorative Arts. When some Ambassadors eventually retired, those purchases often ended in estate sales.”

“A mutual friend who worked for Disney introduced us in 1991,” says Wendy Crandall. “Our vows included a line about building a life together — including our collection.” Matt adds, “Over the last two or three decades, Disney has been at full steam with product. We had to narrow it down to things related to the original 1951 release of the film.”

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Matt and Wendy Crandall

Digital Asset Management (Matt) and Retired Beautician (Wendy)
Collect: Alice in Wonderland memorabilia

“When I was six years old,” says Matt, “my dad took me to Disneyland. We were standing on Main Street watching the parade of figures when Alice walked right up to me and shook my hand. I was so enchanted. I wouldn’t get my hand wet for the rest of the day because I didn’t want to wash the Alice off me.” Wendy adds, “Fairy tales always had a princess. In the book, Alice is never physically described. Anyone can be Alice. She speaks back – and speaks to the Queen. I could really identify with that.”

Laura Brown’s favorite is a silk friendship purse from around 1790 (top row, white with two panels): ‘Two small watercolors are embedded in the purse, one of which shows two women with a dog [the symbol of fidelity]; the other says “sincerity.” It has never been used. Whoever received it must have treasured it and tucked it away because it was so special to them.”

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Laura Brown

retired social worker
Collects: Antique purses

“I have 50 wallets that are just amazing. I have 250, they are great too. They come from the 19th, 18th and 17th centuries. For the really rare ones, I made specially lined boxes that I rummage through about once a week just to look at them. What I love about them is their relative smallness and the fact that they are functional, dimensional and yet the canvas for something personal. It’s the idea that something so ordinary and useful can also be a work of art. I never use them – they are so fragile. I wear a small Baggalini. It’s utilitarian, not pretty.”

Bat Favitsou Boulandi’s collection features a pair of red leopard print women’s Nikes (top row, second from left): “They don’t even fit me. I’m saving them for my wife-to-be or daughter-to-be.” Other kicks, like the red J. Crew/New Balance collab (bottom row, far left), he says, “are great investments. I bought a pair for about $80 that are now worth about $200.”

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Bat Favitsou Boulandi

Art Teacher, Norwood School
Collects: sneakers

“As a teenager, I was very interested in breakdance. I went to a Summer Session Jam, a breakdance competition at American University, and found that the best b-boys had the best sneakers. I saw a guy in Nike Air trainers in the Viotech colorway – purple, yellow and grey. I just had to have these sneakers. That’s when I started building my sneaker artillery. I was 17 then; I’m 40 now and I probably have 400 pairs of sneakers. I actually stopped counting. I buy what appeals to me. i love sneakers The craft, the fabric, the whole experience.”

This article appears in the July 2022 issue of The Washingtonian.

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