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uni'alumni 2015_ENG

Afarmhouse with a view to Lake Con- stance, nestled between cottages, a pavilion, and a church, in the middle of a park with manicured grass and me- ticulously sculpted hedges, surrounded by the forests and extinct volcanoes of the Hegau: The art consultant Dr. Chris- toph Count Douglas explains why he has created his own world here in an inter- view with Nicolas Scherger. uni’alumni: Count Douglas, you studied art history, archaeology, and history in Freiburg. What did you enjoy about your studies? Christoph Count Douglas: Just about everything! I flunked or was kicked out of various schools, finally finished up my schooling in Freiburg, and wanted to become a farmer. My father advised me against it, because there was no money in farming. Then I decided to pursue a degree in a field there seemed to be even less money in. It was marvelous. The lectures were interesting, we had a fantastic library, and there were nice girls among my classmates and out- standing wines. The entire region has become a second home for me. How did you finance your studies? I bought works of art I thought were undervalued and resold them. In this way, I managed to earn almost enough money to live off. And I spent it all again, for example on trips to Afghanistan or Japan. I allowed myself an improbable amount of time to finish my degree. Silver became one of your areas of expertise when you were writing your dissertation. Why? I chose a regional topic for my dissertation, “Constance Silver,” because my father was severely ill. This allowed me to work a lot at home in the Hegau. At this time the English auction house Sotheby’s en- gaged me as a freelance expert on silver. Sotheby’s sent me to Stockholm, Copen- hagen, Paris, London, Rome – all of the European capitals. When I returned, my unfinished dissertation was gathering dust. I had hardly gotten back into it when I had to go on a trip for Sotheby’s again. I didn’t earn my doctorate until I was 34. It sounds like the doctoral degree wouldn’t have been necessary for your career. Finishing my doctorate was a matter of personal concern. One time when I was flipping through my index cards, my girl- friend, who is now my wife, said to me: “I don’t think you’ll ever finish the thing.” That really made me mad, and afterwards I was even more determined to finish it. You joined Sotheby’s full time after completing your degree. What was this time like? It was wonderful working in an interna- tional team. I usually traveled together with experts on furniture, old masters, and other topics. They were from France, England, the USA, and many other countries. I could learn something from everyone. I enjoyed that. Why did you start your own busi- ness in the mid 1990s? I had become head of Sotheby’s Germany and was responsible for other countries in the company. I was also a member of the international board in London and had to do a lot in America. One day my wife and our three children told me I was hardly at home at all anymore. It became clear to me that it was time to end my career at the company. I no longer wanted to lead this incredibly restless and fast-paced life. How did you manage the transition? We bought the farm Daunenberger Hof, in the middle of my home country Hegau. It was a ruin. My wife called in a famous garden architect from England. I invested all of the profits from my newly estab- lished art consultancy company in agri- culture and forestry. So this brought me INTERVIEW “Our Garden Is a Manifesto” Love of landscape is an important theme of art consultant Christoph Count Douglas’s life Christoph Count Douglas wants to bring works of art to the place where they actually belong. Photo: private 12