Belgian financier Pierre Lagrange, who acquired the Savile Row fashion house Huntsman in 2013, has the refined sense of style one would expect of the venerable brand’s owner. But he also has an adventurous spirit that has led him over the years to unexpected locales—from a Harley Davidson road rally in Portugal to Burning Man in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Throughout his travels, the 56-year-old seeks out local shops and dealers to find art, antiques, and other items to add to his evolving collections. Whether discovering an emerging artist or locating a favorite automobile, he approaches the pursuit with a boyish enthusiasm. Here, he reveals how he feeds his appetite for new finds.
I join a Harley Davidson bike tour every 2 years along with hundreds of riders. It’s not really my lifestyle, but I like to touch it because I love the bikes—the look, the noise, and the ridiculously big engines. At a road rally in Portugal last year, I bought an enormous baroque Meissen centerpiece from the 1800s that depicts three enslaved warriors. It’s extraordinary, and it is quite shocking that people made contraptions like this. I find beauty everywhere I go.
As a child, I admired the automobiles in the movies—like what I saw Tony Curtis driving—and I buy mostly cars from those images: a Bentley 52, a Ferrari Dino, a Mercedes Pagoda, and a replica of the Ford GT that won Le Mans. People often buy things because they want to re-create their childhood or be reminded of fond memories.
Art can be exciting and beautiful, but you need to ask yourself: Will it have staying power, and will I still enjoy it years from now? Enjoy and use your art—and maybe buy less so you don’t need to store it. Pieces talk to each other, and I like to move things around to create a nice conversation.
Like Father, Like Son
When I took a New York apartment with my son [who was a student at the time], I charged him with curating an art collection—but there were rules. It had to be meaningful, affordable, and he had to justify why the artist would be relevant 10 years from now. I said no to many suggestions, including Adrian Ghenie, and his work is worth quite a lot today. One discovery he made is Cady Noland. We bought a sculpture of her police barricade that I have in my London home, and even after 5 years, I adore it.
Mix It Up
I like mixing old and new. I have a small black-and-white Rothko painting that is very pure. He made it as a thank-you for the man who taught him tempera painting in Rome. With my son, I bought an Avery Singer. I don’t understand how she uses the 3-D modeling software, but the result is amazing; it is very mathematical and soft at the same time.
I’m always scouting the Internet, and I find a lot on 1stdibs. I discovered Dansk Møbelkunst Gallery in Copenhagen at an art fair, and they have the best selection of Danish furniture. At Maxfield in Los Angeles, I find decorative objects like horn goblets for my country house. In London, Bentleys is good for vintage leather cases, and Guinevere is good for artifacts, silver, and frames.
Being Belgian, I know many dealers. The country has always been a place for experimentation and art, and there are three dealers doing an exceptional job today: Xavier Hufkens, my childhood friend Rodolphe Janssen, and Patrick DeBrock. They are backing young artists from around the world.
Virtual collectibles are what people are talking about, but I’m not there yet.