Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, February 12, 1939 [2]

Paris, 12.II.39

Dear Robert.

I cabled you today “Seen LandauNicolas Landau (1887–1979), an antiquities dealer known as “Le prince des antiquaires.” Born in Varsovia, he studied law in Paris before becoming an antiquities dealer in New York and then in Paris, where he had a business on the rue de Duras. no immediate urgency decisionOn BZ.1939.8. writing.”Cable of February 12, 1939 [1].

I told Landau that I had heard from you of your offer and his reply, and that I had taken it upon myself to come & see him. I believed in the ivory.BZ.1939.8. But, quite apart from Marquet, there were some high authorities in US who did not accept it. I was very much afraid that if the owner went on demanding a price that would be exorbitant even if the ivory had never been questioned, you would just get sick of the whole thing, and put the ivory back on him. I added that I had knowledge of an undoubted ivory of the same period having been sold just the other day for a mere fraction of the sum you had offered for this one—not as big as this one, but undoubted. His client seemed to have altogether fantastic ideas of the value of ivories, and L.,Nicolas Landau. as a dealer knowing the market, had better enlighten him if there was to be any question of a deal. Couldn’t he get his client to reconsider your offer?

Landau, in substance, said he received the force of my remarks. He was extremely anxious to see you get the ivory at a price satisfactory to you, and would do his best to help. But when he had transmitted your 5 offer, the owner had just turned it down flat, & refused to discuss. He couldn’t ask him to reconsider it. He didn’t think it would do any good for him to try & get the owner to agree on a price, for if he did, he would then be in a weak position to induce the owner to make further concessions in case that price were unacceptable to you. He thought the only way would be for you to make a new offer “more nearly in accordance with the ivory’s quality” etc etc, as he had said in his letter to Mrs. B.S. He would do what he could to get the owner to take it.

I said I would report to you, and try to get you to make some advance on your offer. But I doubted whether you would go very far. If L.Nicolas Landau (1887–1979), an antiquities dealer known as “Le prince des antiquaires.” Born in Varsovia, he studied law in Paris before becoming an antiquities dealer in New York and then in Paris, where he had a business on the rue de Duras. wanted to do the deal, he had better impress it on his client’s mind that, through no fault of yours, the ivory was under suspicion, and it was ludicrous to dream of such a price as his. If he didn’t come down from the clouds, he’d certainly end by getting his ivory back, with a bad black eye, and his chances of getting a fair price for it from anyone else would be greatly prejudiced.

I gathered from L.Nicolas Landau (1887–1979), an antiquities dealer known as “Le prince des antiquaires.” Born in Varsovia, he studied law in Paris before becoming an antiquities dealer in New York and then in Paris, where he had a business on the rue de Duras. that his client is at any rate not showing signs of impatience.

Well, how about offering 8 now? I think it would be a great acquisition at 10 or even 15. But perhaps there may be a chance of unhooking it at 8.

Another alternative would be to make an ultimatum offer, say 10. But if that were not accepted, you’d either have to return the ivory, or, if you went on negociating, do so at a great disadvantage. My hunch is not for an ultimatum, at any rate at this stage. I think it has been salutary that you’ve shown no haste so far: it has given weight to my warning that you might lose interest.

I suggest quite a brief letter to Landau, saying you’ve heard from me, and in response to my urging, you are disposed to make an advance on your offer, but in doing so you look to L.Nicolas Landau. to secure his client’s acceptance, and to spare you any further bargaining. You might remind L.Nicolas Landau. that it’s unusual for the buyer to have to name the price. The seller usually does that—and in this case the original figure named is so preposterous that it has no relation to the practical question.

I pray! It would be horrible to lose this object.BZ.1939.8.

Much love to you both

R. T.

P.S. I’ve just dined with Mrs. Gay,Matilda Travers Gay, wife of Walter Gay. who is in pretty good form. She isn’t thinking of going to US this year. “Perhaps next year.”

I’m returning at once to Geneva.

 
Associated Artworks: BZ.1939.8