Born in France in 1948, François Curiel was born the son of a silversmith. Though he attended law school and his family did want him to pursue a career as an attorney, Curiel held a deep passion for the arts and his father also supported that.
Curiel began his career at Christie’s as a jewelry specialist in London in 1969. After working in Madrid, Paris and Geneva, he moved to New York in 1977 to launch the jewelry department there. In 1989, he returned to Europe as Managing Director and worldwide Head of Jewelry.
Never one to rest on his laurels, In 1998,Curiel was appointed Chairman of Christie’s Europe. In 2001, François took over the reins of Christie’s France, while maintaining his other responsibilities. In January 2010, he was appointed President of Christie’s in Asia, based in Hong Kong, and one of the seven executives to lead the Group International Management Team. In February 2014, he was promoted to Chairman of Christie’s Asia Pacific.
Often described as one of the greatest auctioneers of our time,François Curiel regularly holds the hammer for sales in Europe, Asia and America. Curiel truly is a class act; a man that is indeed rare to find in these times. Dr. Nasrine Abushakra spoke with the Christie’s Chairman about his greatest inspirations and most prized possessions.
An Interview with Francois Curiel, Chairman of Christie’s Asia-Pacific
What does your average day look like?
I awake at 7:30 an check email due to time zones, I need to do this first and sip some coffee at 7:30 I go for a run and I am quite focused on my physical well being, self care echo’s self respect and I am committed to my personal well being, therefore I make this investment, to myself then I am able to take care of everything else with the same type of respect.
What top five items comprise your desktop arsenal? Why?
My desk is clear, I dislike clutter of any kind, I have the basics on my desk, my computer and phone, but not much more.
What is one desktop item you just cannot live without?
My gravel (I have been at this for almost four decades) and my phone.
Who are favorite artists? Why?
SO many to chose from, I have modern art in my home mixed with traditional art, I adore the imperialism and Art Deco, as well as Art Deco Nouveau.
Who is your greatest inspiration?
I have so many people that I deeply admire, but I’d be remiss not to mention the following:
JAR Joel Rosenthal (b. 1943) With only one inconspicuous shop in Paris, JAR has, since 1977, made an indelible mark in the world of jewellery. Classicism with a twinkle. Creating unique jewels using natural pearls, Kashmir sapphires, Oriental rubies, rare diamonds and precious stones. He has created an utterly private world of anonymous yet illustrious clients forming an exclusive international club whose members recognize instantly their jewels and one another the world over. Less than 150 JAR creations have appeared in the auction market and all of them fetched considerably more than their retail price. They are considered museum pieces, so rare that there is virtually no limit to what collectors are willing to spend to own one. Our estimates appear to be always ridiculously low and I have even considered no longer publishing them when JAR pieces come up for sale.
Laurence Graff (b. 1938) (sorry for picking another jeweler) For his eye for the world’s most exquisite gems, wisdom in business, and dedication to his trade. From young apprentice to legendary international retailer, Graff has committed his entire life to the one trade that enthused him throughout his life. His taste is impeccable, and his collection spellbinding. He has in less than 30 years became the Harry Winston of our age.
Baron Haussmann (1809-1891) who transformed overcrowded, dark, dirty and dangerous Paris into a beautiful, spacious and healthy city, doubling the area in size. It was a colossal project which took great resourcefulness, foresight and above all, faith and courage. Wide avenues, place de l’Etoile, magnificent Haussmanien buildings… Paris owes her grandeur to him.
Julian Fellowes (b. 1949), actor, director, novelist, screenwriter, but dearest to my heart, creator of Downton Abbey. He understands human nature enough to produce drama that can captivate audience from Asia to Europe to America for 6 long years. A world class genius indeed.