Rolf van Kiaer of the Helios Gallery.

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1 How did you get your start?

In my gap year I started trading on an occasional outdoor pitch in Portobello Road and I got to know the London trade by doing freelance research during my archaeology studies at UCL. I soon realised that a future in the trade suited me better than academia. After university I worked as a porter at Lots Road Galleries and together with my partner Sam we started selling antiquities on Saturday mornings in Westbourne Grove.

2 What is your ‘Holy Grail’ - one object you would love to get your hands on?

I don’t have a ’Holy Grail’ object: I simply enjoy the thrill of the chase, not just finding an item but also in the subsequent research to establish not only what it is as accurately as possible but also in tracking down its collection history from excavation to present day.

One of the greatest thrills was re-discovering a lost collection of small Egyptian antiquities belonging to the pre-Raphaelite painter Henry Wallis, though few of the objects were of any great commercial value. My greatest find to date was an exquisite stone head depicting the Egyptian heretic pharaoh Akhenaten which turned up in a Norfolk agricultural auction.

3 Who is one object you secretly hope to never part with?

A Roman marble portrait bust of the orator Cicero which I simply can’t bring myself to sell. He feels like a member of our family and I look at him every day as he resides rather grumpily on a plinth in our kitchen.


The Roman marble portrait bust of Cicero in Rolf van Kiaer’s kitchen.

4 Who is someone you admire inside or outside the trade?

Cicero: he was an indefatigable seeker of knowledge, stoical and witty but also flawed: a restless pedant. A larger-thanlife character who was a thorn in the side of Julius Caesar and paid with his life for speaking up against corruption and dictatorship.

5 Real ale or espresso martini?

Expresso martini… unless we’re in a country pub after a freezing winter dog-walk.

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