Wednesday, November 25, 2009

David Lester: Who beat him up?

The photograph shown left — of Florida-based fine art and antiques fairs impresario David Lester — has just been circulated as part of his advertising for the Olympia International Fine Art and Antiques Fair, in which Lester and his wife Lee Ann recently secured a controlling stake. Lester wants you to think he's been viciously attacked by disgruntled members of the art and antiques trade who oppose his reforms.

But wait. He's also from Florida, so there could be another simple explanation for why he looks like that.

Lester has always been regarded as something of a marketing genius in the antiques industry, a commercial sector hopelessly stuck in the past. But has he gone too far this time?

The photograph shown here was at the top of a widely circulated email from Lester alerting recipients to the opposition his proposed changes to the Olympia fair have been receiving from the trade following a series of meetings with prospective exhibitors. "Some dealers were more combative than expected," he reports.

Lester goes on to quote David Moss, a fairs journalist for London-based trade newspaper Antiques Trade Gazette, who opined, "Life is a learning curve for all."

The email goes on to deliver a mind-numbing list of proposed changes for the Olympia fair. But while reading these you're assuming that some crazed dealer in fine porcelain or period silver has already taken it upon himself to turn Lester's face into a Martinware bird.

It's only at the end of this dismal advertising stunt that he delivers the real punch line:

NB. David Lester’s picture above actually reflects recent surgery rather than being physically attacked by dealers at the London meeting. No offense is intended to any dealer. This image is just to make you smile.

Well, it didn't. It was a cheap stunt that merely reinforces the tired old saw that antique dealers are basically mindless thugs who will resort to the knuckle sandwich when the temperature rises. Did Lester consult David Moss before quoting him out of context like that?

Apparently, Lester's black eyes are a result of surgery. What kind of surgery? We know the ageing denizens of Florida give too much of their time and money to ham-fisted plastic surgeons with a Picasso complex, but is this more serious? I think we should be told.

The antiques trade is clearly in far worse shape than we imagined.


David Lester said...

Hi Tim,

Actually, you had to be there to fully understand.

The intent of the message was conveying the spirit of the meeting and the results - which were overwhelming positive in terms of dealer commitments to the new LIFAF fair.

The eye surgery was to correct cataracts and drooping eyelids which obscure the field of vision which comes from aging.

We promote at every opportunity - for our clients and for our fairs. Our reputation is that we turn out the collectors - which is our principal job for our clients. We are indeed more aggressive and vocal than many organizers - but we are also generally recognized as one of the most effective in the art world for our clients.

For this, we make no apologies.

Thanks for your interest.

Feel free to contact me at any time personally at

David Lester

Tom Flynn said...

I'm glad your eye op was a success. If the spirit of the meeting was overwhelmingly positive, why the gag about being beaten up? I thought you were all about promoting good taste, not bad taste.

That email was a real marmalade-dropper, for which I suppose you should be applauded. When your eyes heal, you'll see that I'm Tom, not Tim, but under the circumstances I can forgive you that small oversight. Or is undersight? Either way, I'm glad you're on the mend.

Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

James praker said...


Great information and Lester wants you to think he's been viciously attacked by disgruntled members of the art and antiques trade who oppose his reforms.

James Parker.
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