My family firm started out in Frankfurt before 1870 as I. Rosenbaum, named after my great uncle’s father. His name was Jakob Rosenbaum but since ‘J’. in old German looked almost exactly like an ‘I’. the name remained the same when his son Isaak Rosenbaum took over the firm. Isaak had no children so he took his nephews into the business the Rosenbergs and Stiebels and I am a descendent of the latter. When Hitler came to power, Isaak and Saemy Rosenberg moved to Amsterdam. Isaak died in 1936 and when it became obvious by 1939 that Hitler would eventually cross into The Netherlands they sent the youngest, my father Eric Stiebel, to New York to start a new company, Rosenberg & Stiebel. Saemy Rosenberg passed away in 1970 but it took my father and me thirty years to change the name again, to Stiebel, Ltd. After my father died I told people it was Stiebel, Limited because the firm was limited to just me!
|Dutch immigration document|
A few years ago I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico leaving my inventory in a warehouse in New York and closing the gallery there last March. In fact, when we visited New York a few weeks ago it was the first time in my life that I was in New York without having my own bed to sleep in. As an aside, it did not bother me in the slightest. It was nice to visit New York as a tourist even if there was work to do.
There are times in life that one wants to break with the past. It is often called a mid-life crisis though in my case it is definitely too late for that. This was, however, definitely a break in my life. How to mark the change? Obviously, doing away with the old and starting with something new is helpful. I know all kinds of stories of friends who gave up careers and started new ones but they were a lot, lot younger than I am. Also, I do not believe that art dealers ever retire. In fact, one very well known dealer told me that he had made more money in the art trade after he officially retired. How? He bought shares in important paintings with other dealers.
I decided to close my New York gallery and form an entity in New Mexico but what to call it? I tried various forms of my name and they all seemed to be taken by other companies in the state so I had to think outside the box. When I bought my first car in New Mexico I wanted to get a “vanity” license plate but I never wanted anything that would be too easily identified or remembered by, the police, for instance
To give a little history, if you have read my Missives on a regular basis you know that we have collected Native American Art and particularly that of the Hopi tribe for the past 25 years. This has involved a number of visits to the Hopi Reservation. We were lucky enough to find Tsakurshovi, the first trading post you see when you reach the top of 2nd Mesa. There, we were soon taken under the wing of Joseph and Janice Day, the proprietors.
They would take us to see places that we would not have been able to find or go to without them. They also explained much of the culture or demonstrated it to us in one way or another. After a few visits they started introducing us as Pet Pahaanas. We knew that Joseph, in particular, had a great sense of humor so we figured they were making fun of us but soon learned this was not the case. Pahaana in the Hopi language means foreigner of European descent or Anglo. We learned that many “pet pahaanas” visited the Rez, as Reservation is often abbreviated.
It seemed like a most appropriate name for my new company. After all we are Anglos and foreigners to New Mexico. Though most of the people we meet came here from somewhere else, we have a few friends who have been here for many generations.
The new company is now called Pahaana, LLC and as a Limited Liability Company it seems more personal that a Ltd. i.e. corporation. What will I do with this company? First let me tell you what I will not do. I am not opening a gallery though it has been suggested. Aside from the fact that there is little market for old master paintings and French 18th century decorative arts out here, I have done that. I will become a private dealer (a term more honored in the breach) which I have been in effect for a long time. I have resigned from several art dealer associations staying only as a member of the Private Art Dealers Association which automatically makes me part of The International Confederation of Art Dealers (C.I.N.O.A.) of which I was once President.
|The firm in Frankfurt and new image for Pahaana|
I will continue to deal in what I have all my life and will not forgo any opportunities to handle any great Indian works of art that may come my way, which has happened once or twice. Obviously I shall keep in touch through my Missives and my website which can still be found at Stiebel.com as well as Pahaana.com and my email, firstname.lastname@example.org, will not change so do stay in touch.