We’re delighted to share Part II of our Centenary Series: My Leonard Joel. This time, we had the pleasure of stepping into the super stylish home of and chatting to Marie-Laure Claisse, a self-confessed addict of The Thursday Auction!

Can you remember your first visit to Leonard Joel?

The first time I visited Leonard Joel, I just felt a sense of ‘wow’! I felt as if I had entered the Cave of Ali Baba – with all of the gold and precious stones – or a fairytale, like Alice in Wonderland, with so many things to discover at every turn.

Do you consider yourself a collector or do you simply buy what you like when you see it?

No, I don’t consider myself a collector. What I buy is totally random. I never have a shopping list; its more about the catch of the day. As you can see – I love the eclectic, so anything will fit – it just has to sing to me! In my world, you can see an Italian Renaissance chest, flirting with a Ming Dynasty Chinese Warrior.

What do you enjoy about buying at auction? Is it the element of discovery, or the excitement of not knowing whether or not you’ll secure the winning bid?

I love the sense of anticipation, and the wonders of les objets trouvés. I guess, there’s also a sense of responsibility; for me its not about acquiring a new item or piece, but more so about giving those pieces another life in a way, making sure they don’t get lost in time, and that their story, their heritage continues. In this era of mass production of plastic, they are beautiful, singular voices that sing about the past but also about contemporary art and artists.

Do you have a favourite piece you’ve bought at Leonard Joel or a piece you wish you’d won, but lost at auction?

I guess my favourite discovery at Leonard Joel was a polychrome statue of Saint Jacque de Compostelle. He’s like my wiseman, my shepherd – and he doesn’t answer back, so that’s perfect as well! I think he was probably stolen from a church, unfortunately, but Saint Jacque de Compostelle was the patron saint of Spain and of pilgrims, pilgrimages, which reminds me of my Latin heritage, and my adventurous spirit. He’s very special to me.