Mad dealers #5

There were many colourful characters who bought in Portobello Road for their flourishing shops in the late 70s into the early 80s when business in the antiques trade was booming. One, who was a regular visitor to the collectors basement of Lipka's Arcade where I had my booth, was David Newsom.

David was gay and in his 40s at that time. He chose to live in Greenwich Village, New York where he had a curiosity shop filled to the brim with decorative treasures from London and Paris. I saw photographs of his Aladdin's Cave but never made it to his Manhatten shop in time.

I say 'in time' because when I did go to New York and rented a railroad flat in the Village, I called David to say hello and visit his shop. He was most odd on the phone and sounded far away in a panic saying it was not convenient as something had happened. He then hung up leaving me wondering. I never saw him again.

Later back in London I got the full story as David had committed suicide. It was my colleague Stuart Cropper, the toy and tin dealer, who told me as he was a frequent visitor to New York to do the Pier Shows.

David's shop in the Village had not only been broken into but it had been carried out 'Rififi style.' The entire contents of his shop had been stolen on a bank holiday weekend. The building next door was empty and under renovation and so the thieves had dressed as workers and drilled through the adjoining wall uninterrupted throughout the weekend. Easy! On the final day everything had been carried off in a large van.

David's whole world was in his shop and his Miss Havisham world was shattered forever. He tragically took his own life because he could no longer cope with his loss. For us dealers in Portobello Road, it was also a loss for us too, one less colourful character on Saturday morning to brighten up our days.

Written in Villa Perla, Kaleici, Antalya in the sunshine on 14/3/17.


The French movie Rififi.