The Robert Barley Sale

The Robert Barley Sale: auction of items from his personal and stock collections

Friday 21 September 2018

For those who knew Robert Barley, and there are many, news of his recent death signifies the loss of a unique individual and the extinction of a very colourful, characterful wellspring in the antiques world; and those who knew him well are eager to pay tribute to him as one of a rare breed who will be greatly missed within the industry and beyond. As one close friend admitted this week, “Robert was a great dealer but not a naturally good business man; he was never precious or self-indulgent. He had an extraordinary type of integrity, told the truth and was never apologetic about who he was. He had an innocent heart, an intelligent mind and a fantastic sense of fair play”.                    

Robert was totally self-taught about antique artefacts, objects d’art and collectables. He had a diverse and eclectic interest in objects from across the globe, and was “responsive to the spirit of an object more than the academic importance of it; he seemed to have a sensitivity for things”. During his trading days Robert was entirely London-based, including running a stall on Portobello Road Market on Saturdays and his famous shop just off Fulham Palace Road (part oasis, part Aladdin’s Cave) as well as sitting on vetting committees for several of the large international antiques fairs held in London. He also stood at London fairs and his unique multi-cultural display was one which always drew attention: his stand was one not to be missed.

Robert’s business cards always sported the words “Never Boring” and it is this subtext which defines an auction of items from his personal and stock collections to be held at TW Gaze Diss Auction Rooms on Friday 21 September. Over 500 lots of pictures, sculpture, furniture, textiles, architectural features and artefacts spanning 2,000 years of world culture are to be offered for sale in a bespoke event in the newly-built Waveney Room on Roydon Road in Diss, Norfolk.

Auction Rooms Manager Matthew Brand commented “Mr Barley has been a client of ours for several years and we were delighted to receive instruction to market many of the items remaining in his estate. It is bound to be an exciting event, full of colour and surprises; very much like the man himself, so hopefully a fitting tribute.”

Viewing will take place on Thursday 20 September 2pm – 8pm or by appointment only. Catalogues will be available online or by post and all lots will appear on Further details can be obtained from James Bassam, Edward Smith and Elizabeth Talbot 01379 650306.