The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of cufflinks made with rare black Egyptian porphyry. I gathered the tiny stones myself in the desert last year and the jewellers at Verdura have transformed them, following one of Fulco di Verdura’s original designs. verdura.com.
And the thing I’m eyeing next is an extraordinary second-century Egyptian porphyry lion’s head. I saw a photograph of it when I visited the Alessandra Di Castro Antichità gallery, and it’s giving me sleepless nights. alessandradicastro.com.
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is John Robert Cozens – and the watercolours commissioned by the 18th-century novelist and art collector William Beckford to be specific. Cozens painted these views in Beckford’s language, so they are poetic, dramatic and absolutely ravishing. The bulk of them are at the Whitworth Art Gallery, but they do occasionally come up for sale. Whitworth Art Gallery, whitworth.manchester.ac.uk.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was my first Cad & The Dandy suit, made in the most beautiful, subtle, lilac-striped Loro Piana fabric. My life-long tailor, Dave Rose, retired recently so I’d been looking for somewhere new. It is smart, modern and run by a young staff who know their tailoring inside-out. Two‑piece suits from £1,000; cadandthedandy.co.uk.
An object I would never part with is a pair of leather-bound vellum albums containing eccentrically shaped slices of rare coloured marbles and stones. They were assembled in the late 1690s by Monsignor Leone Strozzi, the collector and connoisseur of hardstones. I bought them at auction 28 years ago and they are the focus that holds my stone and marble collection together.
If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose St James’s in London. It has everything I need in terms of shopping and eating and is only a hop and a skip from St James’s Park. My favourite places are Berry Bros & Rudd; David Gill Gallery for design; and the perfumery Santa Maria Novella. Then there’s Truefitt & Hill, the barber where I’ve been having my hair cut forever and a day, and Le Caprice, which I think of as my local café. I know everyone so well, it feels like home. Berry Bros & Rudd, bbr.com. David Gill Gallery, davidgillgallery.com. Le Caprice, le-caprice.co.uk. Santa Maria Novella, smnovella.com. Truefitt & Hill, truefittandhill.co.uk.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is Old Masters Rock: How to Look at Art with Children by the dealer and European painting specialist Maria-Christina Sayn‑Wittgenstein Nottebohm. Although it was written for her son, I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the arts.
The best gift I’ve received recently was an oil painting of a vase of peonies by Paul César Helleu. I have a passion for peonies and this appeared as a gift from my great friend [the art dealer] Lady Jane Abdy after her death. It’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever been given.
An indulgence I would never forgo is either my garden in Jersey – a true indulgence, as it’s looked after by someone else and I am only there for half the year – or my 1997 Bentley Azure, which I am wildly in love with.
My favourite website is Factum-arte.com, a business that specialises in 3D printing for architectural conservation.