Loving beautiful things generates an irresistible desire for accumulation and domination. Contemplation of beauty, the primary activity of the gentleman, linked to the intimate pleasure of possession, produces satisfaction and narcissistic self-satisfaction. For those who love objects, to which they recognize a soul and a life of their own, safeguarding their integrity is a primary duty. Also because the elegant man knows that objects cannot really be owned, because they are meant to outlive us, as they enjoy, unlike us, the gift of immortality. The gentleman’s task remains, then, to live with them for as long as he is allowed, and then pass them on, with the hope that they will end up in equally sensitive hands.
I believe that the aptitude for caring for and buying beautifully crafted objects was passed down to me genetically from my maternal grandfather. His name was Aniello Cafiero and he was the youngest son of a Neapolitan shipowning family. Like his older brother, he was a longtime captain and commanded cruise liners. A methodical, willing and tenacious man, in spite of his family who did not appreciate his mania for buying furniture, paintings and furnishings, considering it an insane way of squandering money, my grandfather never abandoned this passion for accumulation and collection in his short life. His squandering gave the family, in addition to numerous pieces of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Neapolitan furniture, a modest picture gallery that included an immense painting by Guercino, a couple by Luca Giordano, a Madonnina attributed to the school of Giotto, and some seventy oil paintings by Crisconio and Viti, as well as numerous paintings of the Posillipo school. Of the very short time I spent with him, few memories remain. These included certainly those related to some of the activities in which he involved me in helping him tidy up his collections of walking sticks, Neapolitan nativity scene shepherds, and antique books. I believe that those hours, often spent in silence, listening to his recommendations on the importance of preserving objects laden with history, were the genesis of the interest, which I have since maintained throughout my life, in handcrafted artifacts. On the paternal side I assume and believe I have metabolized the motto that integrates the blazon: “In spite of everything I believe!”
I have always attended antique markets in all the cities I have a chance to visit. I cultivate an interest in English luggage and cases.
Of the objects related to smoking and Havana cigars in particular, I favor the English leather and crocodile cigar cases made in the last two centuries, humidors, and vintage cigar boxes. My love for the Havana led me to frequent the sacred temples of the cigar trade, and personally met some of the great merchants, foremost among them Zino Davidoff. Paraphrasing Auric Goldfinger, who harbored the same morbid passion for gold, I can state that “I will embark on any venture that will increase my stock of Havana cigars, which is already considerable!”
If I am asked, finally, how this “passion” came about, I answer, “like all the others.” The great loves, the definitive ones, always arise from strong emotions, immersive experiences, ecstasies of pleasure and enjoyment that we want to repeat, relive, learn about, and dominate to our heart’s content.