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Starting Small

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Fabulous Collection Has a Modest Beginning

These gorgeous pictures come from the current special exhibition at the Kimbell Art Museum, over on the other side of the Metroplex. From the Lands of Asia is a glorious array of beautiful items from all over the Far East. One might imagine they had been borrowed from someplace like the British Museum or some other major institution. Instead, they came from the private collection of Sam and Myrna Meyers.

When I first heard about the exhibition I wondered who in the heck Sam and Myrna Meyers were. Usually these types of collections are tied to some name I recognize, whether it is a museum, a university or a famous fabulously rich family of the ilk of the Rockefeller, Carnegie, etc., but I could not immediately associate the Meyers name with any prominent family of wealth.

Just Another Guy in an Antique Store

Sam Meyers was an attorney and in the mid-60's his job transferred him to Paris. He and his wife loved it and decided it would be their home, not just their most recent assignment. Taking advantage of their proximity to many European countries, the couple traveled whenever they could. One day on a trip to Switzerland they spent a some time ogling the goods in an arts and antiquities gallery. Their love for the items on display was obvious to the dealer minding the store, so he asked which of the pieces the couple was most interested in.

Sam admitted that he did love most everything he saw, but was only a man of modest means, so he couldn't not afford anything. That would send most arts and antiquities dealers running away, but not this one. The dealer asked how much the couple could afford.

Small Things Make a Difference

I couldn't decide who I liked best at this point in the story. I liked Sam because he was honest and humble. How many of us have oohed and aahed our way through a gallery, and then, when approached by the salesperson, scurried off, tossing "we're just looking" over our shoulder. Sam confessed his interest but also freely admitted his inability to buy.

At times I've been the just-looking customer, but I've also seen the back of many salespeople as they turned their noses towards the ceiling and did their best to make me feel ashamed for bringing the dust of my shoes into their gallery. Both of the characters in this story had a role in its happy ending.

Those snooty sales people are the reason I also liked the dealer for asking his next question. Can't afford the Louis XVI desk? OK, what can you afford? When Sam answered, "Only about $20," the dealer said, "Let me see what I can do."

Participate in Big Things with Your Small Efforts

The dealer came back with a handful of small stone heads. The Meyers were thrilled to discover they could afford these small pieces of history and they bought all four. Something magnificent began that day. The Meyers continued shopping in galleries throughout the world and eventually became sought after art connoisseurs.

I loved this story and wanted to share it with you. All of us have the opportunity to participate in life-changing situations more often than we realize. One more question can be the key that unlocks the most important transaction we ever do. Honest, transparent answers to even the most casual question can pave the way for conversations that will change your life.

Don't Miss the Exhibition

Now that you know the story of the small stone heads, I hope you'll be interested in making it to the Kimbell to see this extraordinary collection. Along the way you'll learn of many small steps the Meyers took along the way to becoming some of the most important private collectors of art in our time. They shopped for bargains, took chances and made mistakes. You'll like them, so don't miss this opportunity to get to know them.

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