RECOLLECTIONS By Colin Stair
As I sit here thinking about the Collection of Jean Stein, I wonder what my family’s legacy may have been like if Jean Stein’s father, the late Dr. Jules Stein, had never met my grandfather, Alastair Stair, in the winter of 1951. My grandfather purchased his family furniture business, Stair & Company, from his father in 1936, opening a branch in New York where he would meet the business man and collector, Jules Stein. Dr. Stein was an accomplished ophthalmologist who left his practice to pursue his love of the music industry, co-founding The Music Corporation of America in 1924. Dr. Stein and his wife became loyal clients of Stair & Company and he and my grandfather forged a strong personal and professional relationship.
Dr. and Mrs. Stein loved to collect and were frequent visitors to the gallery on 57th street. Ultimately, Dr. Stein decided to invest in Stair & Co., buying half the business and becoming my grandfather’s partner. My grandfather had always been ambitious, and partnering with Jules Stein allowed him to transition his business and expand, opening galleries in Palm Beach and Colonial Williamsburg. He was also able to expand his restoration business, Oxford Restoration, and eventually opened The Incurable Collector across from his elegant 57th Street townhouse. The Steins’ connections both in the business world and in Hollywood helped Stair & Co. flourish, adding another layer of clientele to the gallery’s roster.
Beginning in January, Stair Galleries will be offering property from The Collection of Jean Stein, Dr. Stein’s daughter, who was a respected author and editor, as well as a collector like her parents. My personal connection to the Stein family through my family’s legacy makes working with this collection feel like the closing of a chapter in both our family’s histories. The Steins and the Stairs shared a love of art and antiques in a New York full of memories and nostalgia.