OBSERVANCE OF THE LAW Joseph Duveen the greatest dealer


Joseph Duveen was undoubtedly the greatest art dealer of his time-from
1904 to 1940 he almost single-handedly monopolized America's millionaire art-collecting market. But one prize plum eluded hirn: the industrialist
Andrew Mellon. Before he died, Duveen was determined to make Mellon
a dient.
Duveen's friends said this was an impossible dream. Mellon was a stiff,
tacitum man. The stories he had heard about the congenial, talkative Duveen rubbed hirn the wrong way-he had made it dear he had no desire to
meet the man. Yet Duveen told his doubting friends, "Not only will Mellon
buy from me but he will buy only from me." For several years he tracked
his prey, leaming the man's habits, tastes, phobias. To do this, he secretly
put several of Mellon's staff on his own payroll, worming valuable information out of them. 

By the time he moved into action, he knew Mellon about
as well as Mellon's wife did.
In 1921 Mellon was visiting London, and staying in a palatial suite on
the third floor of Claridge's Hotel. Duveen booked hirnself into the suite
just below Mellon's, on the second floor. He had arranged for his valet to
befriend Mellon's valet, and on the fateful day he had chosen to make his
move, Mellon's valet told Duveen's valet, who told Duveen, that he had
just helped Mellon on with his overcoat, and that the industrialist was making his way down the corridor to ring for the lift.
Duveen's valet hurriedly helped Duveen with his own overcoat. Seconds later, Duveen entered the lift, and 10 and behold, there was Mellon.
"How do you do, Mr. Mellon?" said Duveen, introducing hirnself. 

"I am on
my way to the National Gallery to look at some pictures." How uncannythat was precisely where Mellon was headed. And so Duveen was able to
accompany his prey to the one location that would ensure his success. He
knew Mellon's taste inside and out, and while the two men wandered
through the museum, he dazzled the magnate with his knowledge. Once
again quite uncannily, they seemed to have remarkably similar tastes.
Mellon was pleasantly surprised: This was not the Duveen he had expected. The man was charming and agreeable, and dearly had exquisite
taste. When they retumed to New York, Mellon visited Duveen's exdusive
gallery and fell in love with the collection. Everything, surprisingly enough,
seemed to be precisely the kind of work he wanted to collect. For the rest
of his life he was Duveen's best and most generous dient.
A man as ambitious and competitive as Joseph Duveen left nothing to
chance. What's the point of winging it, of just hoping you may be able to
charm this or that dient? It's like shooting ducks blindfolded. Arm yourself
with a little knowledge and your aim improves. 

Mellon was the most spectacular of Duveen's catches, but he spied on
many a millionaire. By secretly putting members of his clients' household
staffs on his own payroll, he would gain constant access to valuable infor-
mation about their masters' comings and goings, changes in taste, and
other such tidbits of information that would put hirn a step ahead. A riyal
of Duveen's who wanted to make Henry Frick a dient noticed that whenever he visited this wealthy New Yorker, Duveen was there before hirn, as
if he had a sixth sense. To other dealers Duveen seemed to be everywhere,
and to know everything before they did. His powers discouraged and disheartened them, 

until many simply gave up going after the wealthy dients
who could make a dealer rich.
Such is the power of artful spying: It makes you seem all-powerful,
clairvoyant. Your knowledge of your mark can also make you seem charming, so well can you anticipate his desires. No one sees the source of your
power, and what they cannot see they cannot fight.
Rulers see through spies, as cows through smell, Brahmins through
scriptures and the rest 01 the people through their normal eyes.
Kautilya, Indian philosopher, third antury B. C.
In the realm of power, your goal is a degree of control over future events.
Part of the problem you face, then, is that people won't tell you all their
thoughts, emotions, and plans. Controlling what they say, they often keep
the most critical parts of their character hidden-their weaknesses, ulterior
motives, obsessions. The result is that you cannot predict their moves, and
are constantly in the dark. The trick is to find a way to probe them, to find
out their secrets and hidden intentions, without letting them know what
you are up to.
This is not as difficult as you might think. A friendly front will let you
secretly gather information on friends and enemies alike. Let others consult the horoscope, or read tarot cards: You have more concrete me ans of
seeing into the future.
The most common way of spying is to use other people, as Duveen
did. The method is simple, powerful, but risky: You will certainly gather information, but you have little control over the people who are doing the
work. Perhaps they will ineptly reveal your spying, or even secretly turn
against you. It is far better to be the spy yourself, to pose as a friend while
secretly gathering information.
The French politician Talleyrand was one of the greatest practitioners
of this art. He had an uncanny ability to worm secrets out of people in polite conversation. A contemporary of his, Baron de Vitrolles, wrote, "Wit
and grace marked his conversation. He possessed the art of concealing his
thoughts or his malice beneath a transparent veil of insinuations, words
that imply something more than they express. Only when necessary did he
inject his own personality." The key here is Talleyrand's ability to suppress
himself in the conversation, to make others talk endlessly about themselves
and inadvertently reveal their intentions and plans. 

LAW 14 1 03
If you have reason to
suspect that a person is
telling you a lie, look as
though you believed
every word he said.
This will give him
courage to go on; he
will hecome more
vehement in his
assertions, and in the
end betray himself
Again, ifyou perceive
that a person is trying
to conceal something
from you, but with only
partial success, look as
though you did not
believe him. The opposition on your part will
provoke him into leading out his reserve of
tYUth and bringing the
whole force of it to
hear upon your
1 71l8-1 860
104 LAW 14
Throughout Talleyrand's life, people said he was a superb conversationalist-yet he actually said very litde. He never talked about his own
ideas; he got others to reveal theirs. He would organize friendly games of
charades for foreign diplomats, social gatherings where,

 however, he
would carefully weigh their words, cajole confidences out of them, and
gather information invaluable to his work as France's foreign minister. At
the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) he did his spying in other ways: He
would blurt out what seemed to be a secret (actually something he had
made up), then watch his listeners' reactions. He might tell a gathering of
diplomats, for instance, that a reliable source had revealed to him that the
czar of Russia was planning to arrest his top general for treason. By watching the diplomats' reactions to this made-up story, he would know which
ones were most excited by the weakening of the Russian army-perhaps
their goverments had designs on Russia? As Baron von Stetten said,
"Monsieur Talleyrand fires a pistol into the air to see who will jump out the
During social gatherings and innocuous encounters, pay attention.
This is when people's guards are down. By suppressing your own personality, you can make them reveal things. The brilliance of the maneuver is
that they will mistake your interest in them for friendship, so that you not
only leam, you make allies.
Nevertheless, you should practice this tactic with caution and care. If
people begin to suspect you are worming secrets out of them under the
cover of conversation, they will stricdy avoid you. Emphasize friendly
chatter, not valuable information. Your search for gems of information cannot be too obvious, or your probing questions will reveal more about yourself and your intentions than about the information you hope to find.
A trick to try in spying comes from La Rochefoucauld, who wrote,
"Sincerity is found in very few men, and is often the cleverest of ruses-­
one is sincere in order to draw out the confidence and secrets of the other."
By pretending to bare your heart to another person, in other words, you
make them more likely to reveal their own secrets. Give them a fals

� confession and they will give you a real one. Another trick was identified by
the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, who suggested vehemendy contradicting people you're in conversation with as a way of irritating them, stirring them up so that they lose some of the control over their words. In their
emotional re action they will reveal all kinds of truths about themselves,
truths you can later use against them.
Another method of indirect spying is to test people, to lay litde traps
that make them reveal things about themselves. Chosroes 11, a notoriously
clever seventh-century king of the Persians, had many ways of seeing
through his subjects without raising suspicion.

 If he noticed, for instance,
that two of his courtiers had become particularly friendly, he would call
one of them aside and say he had information that the other was a traitor,
and would soon be killed. The king would tell the courtier he trusted him
more than anyone, and that he must keep this information secret. Then he
would watch the two men carefully. If he saw that the second courtier had
not changed in his behavior toward the king, he would conclude that the
first courtier had kept the secret, and he would quickly promote the man,
later taking hirn aside to confess, "I meant to kill your friend because of
certain information that had reached me, but, when 1 investigated the matter, 1 found it was untrue." If, on the other hand, the second courtier started
to avoid the king, acting aloof and tense, Chosroes would know that the secret had been revealed. He would ban the second courtier from his court,
letting hirn know that the whole business had only been a test, but that
even though the man had done nothing wrong, he could no longer trust
hirn. The first courtier, however, had revealed a secret, and hirn Chosroes
would ban from his entire kingdom.
It may seem an odd form of spying that reveals not empirical information but a person's character. Often, however, it is the best way of solving
problems before they arise.
By tempting people into certain acts, you leam about their loyalty,
their honesty, and so on. And this kind of knowledge is often the most
valuable of all: Armed with it, you can predict their actions in the future.

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