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Mad Collectors #6
by Jilliana Ranicar-Breese

Magical Martin and I spent a couple of weeks in communist Budapest in the early 80s so naturally I had to go to the weekend flea market. There was nothing much to buy for my international clients in London, Paris and New York until I saw a watch dealer selling an old looking erotic timepiece in the form of a fob watch. It was ticktocking away and if you lifted the underside lid, a copulating couple were at it tick and tocking away! But was it an original or a repro? I had no way of knowing as I was not a timepiece expert but I certainly had had years of experience dealing in erotic sepia 1920s postcards, photographs, prints and stereo cards in Paris. Having bought nothing else in Budapest, I decided to risk it and purchased my first time piece!

Back I went to Paris with my trophy. I had to be careful who I saw it but finally showed it to my toy dealer colleague Denis Ozanne who also owned an art bookshop in the 6em (today in the 9em). He said I had to meet THE number one Erotica collector in Paris and would arrange a discrete personal introduction.

Thus I entered the world of affluent Alain Khan-Scriber. Not knowing what or who to expect, I was invited to his office. There I encountered a handsome, virile, dynamic Jewish 'something in the city' businessman connected with finance. But despite his office being contemporary and small, it housed, standing proudly in the corner, a gigantic phallus made of glass! The man had a sense of humour for sure. I didn't comment of course but glanced casually like it was a normal every day object to see.  After all who else would dare to have such a piece of art in his private office?

Time to look at my timely treasure. Alain examined it carefully with a loupe but thought it wasn't original however he made a phone call to a friend only to be told to ring back at ten to the hour. Why I enquired? Alain laughed and said he was a psychiatrist and his patient would go at ten to! An appointment only lasted 50 minutes. No, that collector didn't want my fob because he already had one and it was a fake. However, it had given me an introduction to an important collector who had bought a lot of Michel Simon's famous erotica collection at the 5 auctions at Hotel Drouot.

I was thus invited to see his collection one evening. Alain's claim to fame was that he had married Marie Laforet in 1971, the famous singer and actress and fathered their child. It seems his ex wife had many husbands and today at 79 lives in Switzerland. I reckon Alain must be the same age if he is still alive but I can only find two references to him on Google.

He lived in a prestigious building which I think he owned with his wife or was she his mistress who had just produced a baby? Madame was not pleased to meet me when I arrived in the flat. There she was, writing out cookery recipes in the kitchen totally disinterested in my presence. Alain whisked me away upstairs to an interesting intimate very traditional French burgundy bookish apartment on the top floor where his collection was housed. He showed me ethnic objects, porcelain figures, books, prints and paintings by famous artists. The top end of the market and definitely not pornographic. The man was a historian and knew his subject. He was also a fine art collector and loved beautiful women on and off the canvas! As he knew I was a specialist in pre-cinema, the one thing that stands out all those decades ago, was an erotic zoetrope band that he spun for me in his zoetrope. Phalluses galore viewed through the slats popping up and down as the black drum spun round! A sight to behold!!

After an educational couple of hours we ventured down to Madame who was meant to feed me. I don't recall they ate but all I was offered was a mere salad, some bread and then a final goodbye ice cream. The atmosphere in the kitchen was stilted and I was starving. Did she suspect we had been at it in his library?  Not surprisingly after that our paths would cross at La Vilette, Chatou and La Bastille, the Paris brocante fairs always hand in hand with a beautiful Swiss fashion designer blonde woman called Claudia. Their language was English and I distinctly heard him call her an 'old cow' one afternoon!  Obviously they were a handsome fun loving couple and I suppose he was estranged from the jealous Madame who no doubt was a good cook but not the night I was invited!

I don't recall ever selling anything to Alain as he was the top end of the erotic market but I did sell the fob to Elliot Baruch, the owner of the prestigious Galerie Popoff Russian art gallery on the Faubourg St Honore right opposite the Elysee Palace, who happened to be the lover of my then close friend American Carmen. That however is for another vignette to be written.

Written in the Hotel Marisa, Cordoba in May 2017 during the Patio Festival in the rain.


Wikipedia - Marie Laforet
Wikipedia - Michel Simon - eccentric
Google - Denis Ozanne
Seduced : Art and sex from Antiquity to Now - Telegraph