Published: December 18, 2019
NEW YORK CITY — On December 4, Paul Fisher, estate jeweler, passed away at the age of 92 due to complications from pneumonia. Throughout his life, Fisher had developed a deep sense of good-will among those in the pearl, gemstone and estate business, including many prominent players, such as Joel Arthur Rosenthal (JAR), Ward Landrigan (chairman and chief executive officer of Verdura) and Bill Goldberg of William Goldberg. Described by his daughter Marianne Fisher as very “Yoda-like,” Fisher delighted in traveling the globe, hunting for incredibly specific products for his clients and maintaining his vast store of relationships.
“My dad was a very generous person. He didn’t care about being rich; he cared about being kind, about being a good human being — that was very important to him,” Marianne explained. “He was always an old soul, all of his life, and he was always very generous. He used to tell me, ‘if you’re selling something, don’t round up, round down, leave room for someone else to make some money.’”
Marianne painted a very vivid picture of the business when she was a child and her dad would bring her to auctions. “My dad went to every single Sotheby’s auction they had in St Moritz; it was every February, and they’d wheel and deal in the lobby of the hotel. It was a great atmosphere, everyone would go down to the Palace Hotel and go dancing in the Kings Club. They’d all be there for the auction, but so much business was done outside of the office.”
Perhaps Fisher’s greatest legacy was what was referred to by those in the know as the “Paul Fisher School.” Fisher would take in apprentices and teach them each for six months at a time. He would only take one at a time, and only from places outside of the United States, and he would show them everything he knew, give them access to clients and even allow them to purchase pieces on the Paul Fisher Inc account. According to Marianne, he did this “out of the goodness of his heart,” and over the course of the years, his apprentices numbered in the 40s. Two of the apprentices, Tibor Ullmann and Marco Chiaravalli, continue to work for the company today. In 1989, many of the apprentices threw Fisher a birthday party and again attended his 90th birthday party in Basel.
Paul Fisher Inc is a sixth-generation business. Marianne Fisher’s niece recently joined the team. The firm was started by Julius Fisher in the 1850s in Vienna, Austria, and in 1921, Julius’ grandsons, Ferdinand and Robert, continued the legacy, opening Bruder Fisher in Vienna. Robert Fisher, Paul’s father, brought the business to London in 1938, and also established a New York office in 1941. In 1956, Paul established Paul Fisher Inc of New York and went on to establish the London branch, P. Fisher Ltd, in 1980.
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