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Paradise Found



photographs by jp moreiras/fauna & flora international

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One morning in 1988, a Wall Street banker named Jorge Luis Gamarci found himself in Midtown with an hour to kill between appointments. An art lover, he decided to stop by the Frick Museum, on Fifth Avenue, whose collection of pre-twentiethth-century masterworks he particularly admired. Gamarci walked among Whistlers and Constables, Goyas, Velazquezes and El Grecos. He studied the strange soft light that fell across Vermeer’s women and blazed in their pearl necklaces. He stared for a long moment into the face of George Romney’s “Lady Hamilton as Nature,” a lovely, naughty face that used to hang opposite the bed of Henry Clay Frick himself.

Gamarci then sat down on a bench to think it all over. He was fast becoming a wealthy man; how should he invest his new millions? “I was imagining how nice it would be to own these paintings and sculptures, these carefully selected pieces of art,” he recalls at his backcountry home, as a painted Andean condor rode a thermal above his shoulder. “Then my thought process went to the next stage: Well, if I owned a collection like this, I would have to spend a considerable amount of money and time and worry protecting it. Insurance, guards. And still I couldn’t be sure, because of fire and other dangers. What a headache it could be! So that day I came to the conclusion that it would be better for me to invest in masterpieces of nature, if I could find them.”

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