Bernard Shapero of Shapero Rare Books.

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1. How did you get your start as a dealer?

I started at Grays Antiques after leaving school with six ‘O’ levels. More than enough to be in the art and antiques trade. From there I went to a large bookshop in Holland Park, purpose built by the architect Rick Mather, before coming to Mayfair in 1996.

Until January 2020, Mayfair was the most important place in the art world to be. Now, because of Covid-19, there’s a hiatus that will last for the rest of 2020 and maybe until 2022, but I think it’s just temporary. People’s natures don’t change and once there is a vaccine or treatment people will continue to flock together.

2. What was one great discovery you’ve made?

Learning that however far down you go, it is always possible to get back up again.

3. This is your first time exhibiting at Petworth. Why have you decided to stand there?

Because we can. It’s got an incredibly wealthy catchment area, and suits traditional tastes, which is good for part of our business, and it’s doable. It’s not like the Frieze or Maastricht fairs which were called off this year, but we’re hoping and expecting people will come because it’s a nice outing in a marquee – people do have money to spend at the moment and they want to spend it on assets.


Bernard Shapero offers this 1922 painting by Sir Oswald Birley (1880-1952) of Edward Charles Grenfell, 1st Baron St Just (1870-1941), at the Petworth fair. The oil on canvas, 4ft 9in x 3ft 11in (1.45 x 1.19m), is priced at £37,000.

4. Who do you admire in the trade?

There are several different types of dealers: those that are good business people and some good marketeers, but the ones I admire are those with an ‘eye’.

5. One change you predict for the trade?

More dealers becoming part-time auctioneers. It’s happening in reverse, too, with the big auction houses brokering private sales. Technology is opening everything up to everybody all the time.

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