An army veteran, Dr. Jesse Greenberg graduated from Rosalind Franklin School of Medicine in Chicago in 1954. His partner, William Faraminian, pursued a career with the United Nations. Dr. Greenberg and Mr. Faraminian split their time between New Jersey and an apartment on Sutton Place in New York City, where they stayed as they enjoyed the ballet, opera, and the arts.
In addition to these interests, Dr. Greenberg and Mr. Faraminian strongly supported the gay rights movement as it progressed from the aftermath of the Stonewall riots towards equality, knowing full well the risk to their careers in medicine and diplomacy.
At New York auctions and during their travels all over the world, Dr. Greenberg and Mr. Faraminian amassed and treasured an extraordinary collection over the course of half a century. The decision had been made to disband this collection, a celebration of their love of art as well as their commitment to each other for over fifty years.
I arrived at their home on a rainy day a few months ago. My first impression was of stepping back in time, into a collector’s apartment of decades ago: classical marble statuary; elegant French furniture, including a pair of Louis XVI Bergeres signed “J.B. Boulard;” and muscular bronzes by Moigniez, Plazzotta, and Carrier Belluse.
Further exploration revealed other treasures: important English and continental sterling silver; a Napoleon III bronze-mounted alabaster mantel clock; an ancient-style glass vessel, incongruously ensconced in its own velvet-lined giltwood Georgian-style case.
The couple clearly collected with an informed eye and recognized quality when they saw it. As I examined their treasures, I wished that I could have known these two gentlemen, and I feel privileged that Skinner has the opportunity to present their New York City collection at auction.
Please join us for the previews on October 9-10, and for the auction of European Furniture & Decorative Arts on Saturday, October 11, 2014 in Boston.