Textile from the collection of American director, Robert Altman signed by Birgit Ullhammar mid 20th  century textile c. 1970 82″ x 96″   In his own words: “I had been painting since the age of fourteen and graduated college at nineteen with a studio art degree, but I came to realize I had more of an “eye” than a “hand.” And the fact that I had always been mesmerized by things that were old, made antique dealing a logical path for me. I started with a small shop in the West Village during the late seventies, but my “real” career as an antique dealer began when I opened my equally small shop on Second Avenue and 60th street in 1989. It had about 200 square feet of selling space. At that time I did all of my buying in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. There were many shops to visit back then and the shows both large and small often yielded things of interest to me. While it was working fairly well, I was concerned about the difficulty I had in trying to stay awake at the wheel on the way back home from an early buying spree at a show eighty or ninety miles from NYC. My solution and good fortune in general came in 1992 when my dear friends, Anne and Tom Spencer, dealers from Norfolk, Virginia, insisted that I come along with them on a buying trip to France. I was already in the habit of visiting Paris every year since I had honeymooned there four years earlier. Their help in introducing me to their shipper, walking me through the then complex layout of the flea market and in bringing me to some of the out-of-Paris shows, constituted the initiation I needed for entry into a completely new way of buying. I traveled to Europe five times a year and stayed much longer than my competitors. I was abroad sixteen weeks a year in order to find the “goods” to satisfy my clients. I became quite familiar with the French train system, and did both day trips (I once did a Paris/Nice round trip by train in a single day) and longer circuits through France and neighboring countries. But the Paris flea markets held a central role for me. The most intense time of buying in the flea markets was from 5am to 8am on Friday mornings. The competition to buy the best of the “fresh” merchandise was brutal. The talent, imagination and industriousness of the sellers were all noteworthy. On a few occasions, I was lucky enough to be the first to have the opportunity to buy an object that I had never before imagined. For instance, a pair of Jean Buffile Bird-Formed Pitchers made in Aix-en-Provence in the early sixties took my breath away. There was also a dust-covered Italian two-door oak cabinet from the fifties with intricately carved seashells covering both doors down the alley-way of one of the out-of-the-way dealers – it was “gaspworthy”!!! I must admit I regret selling them to this day. Back in New York, I sold only to the trade. This was a perfect method of operation for me, as my customer base of notable designers would sell the objects to their clients, thereby sparing me from the otherwise certain fate of the world’s worst salesman (me). Looking back, it seems that there was serendipity in the timing of my most active period of buying in Europe. Certainly, I had arrived after the true golden age but the moment was one that suited me well. As the talented European dealers were being driven to try new things, they often offered objects that struck me as full of interest, but were not exactly what my competition was still looking to find. I could often put together a collection of something over several buying trips before others began to be interested. It was all inspiring and exciting, even if a bit taxing. And I was also lucky to have many of the best interior decorators as my clients. After much prodding by my late friend, Amy Perlin, in 2002, I moved into a much larger gallery in the Interior Design Building just around the corner on 61st street, where I continued to operate Robert Altman, LLC as an open shop until my lease expired at the end of 2014. Now it is time for a new chapter. I actually believe that the right beautiful object (double entendre intended), in the right place, in the home of the right person, can change that person for the better.” — Written by Robert Altman