Johnny Van Haeften

Get to know the people and personalities that make the BADA, as we delve into their businesses, passions, and insights on buying and collecting. Through a series of interviews, we uncover their stories and discover what drives them in the world of art and antiques. 


Johnny Van Haeften

From Johnny Van Haeften

Johnny started his career in the PR and Stamp Departments at Christie’s, where he realised his affinity with Dutch Old Masters; a nod to his ancestry perhaps.  In 1977, Johnny and his wife Sarah opened the gallery, specialising in Dutch and Flemish Old Master Paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries – the only gallery in London dealing exclusively in this field.  For nearly forty years, Johnny has been a key figure in the Art World. 


Could you tell us about your favourite piece currently in your stock and what makes it special?

Balthasar van der AstOne of my current favorite pieces in stock is a large still life by Balthasar van der Ast, previously part of the Gordon and Ann Getty Collection. It has nearly perfect condition, and its composition shows great balance.


What would you say has been your biggest personal achievement in your career in fine art & antiques so far?

Staying sane and solvent (not necessarily in that order).


How did you first discover your love for fine art and antiques?

At Christie’s stamp department, in 1969.


Is there a house that you would love to design the interiors for/ furnish, or perhaps a client you would like to work with?

Any great Georgian House (great proportions).


If you weren’t a dealer, what would you be?

Richer and happier.


Could you tell us your three top tips for buying and collecting antiques?

The objects must move you and have great condition and quality.


Could you tell us about a recent visit to a gallery, exhibition or fair you have visited and enjoyed?

Frans Hals at The National Gallery.


What would you say is needed to be a successful dealer?

Integrity at all times.


What is one item you couldn’t do without?

My magnifying glass and strong torch.


Who do you admire in the world of art and antiques and why?

Richard Green in his unerring eye in every subject and school.


What is an item that you wish you had never sold to a client and kept for yourself?

Girl Combing her Hair by Caspar Netscher, but it’s gone to a good home and a great Friend.


What events have you got coming up and where can we next view your stock?

Frieze Masters in October, otherwise by appointment only.


Who would be your dream dinner party guests, dead or alive?

Vermeer, Rembrandt (plus an interpreter who spoke Dutch!), Napoleon, Lord Duveen, Rudolf Nureyev (an old friend).


Can you tell us a little know fact about yourself which is unrelated to the Antiques Trade?

I learnt Russian at school as I wanted to be a diplomat, and once spoke fairly fluent Russian.