Published: December 19, 2017
My dear friend Joe Shein (b 1926) passed away peacefully at his Key Biscayne, Fla., home on October 8, with his loving wife Janet by his side.
As I sat down to write this tribute to Joe, an avalanche of descriptive adjectives raced through my head.
From loving husband to Janet and father to their four children – Benjamin, Elizabeth, Mathew and Alexis – and grandfather of several grandchildren to successful attorney, generous philanthropist, diverse and adventurous collector, world traveler, Joe was an intensely private and intellectual gentleman, yet socially charming, fun-loving and to me, personally, one of my dearest friends.
Joe often turned to me for advice on a piece he was considering, yet he possessed a deep instinct of his own, which drove his and Janet’s passion for acquiring contemporary photography, glass, sculpture, fine art, folk art, antique toys, important porcelains, nautical walking sticks, textiles, pottery, paintings… and the list goes on – true collectors from heart and soul.
Joe and Janet’s former home in Merion, Penn., was virtually a “window” into their lives together, as there was always a fascinating story about the hundreds of magnificent objects that welcomed guests from the front door to the music room and everything in between; the Sheins’ home was mesmerizing, an honor and pleasure to take in.
I can still see Joe and Janet coming into Jim Burk’s York Antiques Show more than three decades ago and hearing them greet me with compliments about my display and hugs all around. The Sheins lit up the room and supported our industry in a way words cannot express.
If I had five pages to fill about Joe, I could do it with ease, but I would rather close by quoting actress Meryl Streep from her iconic performance in Out of Africa, “I am much better at hello than goodbye,” and that goes for my dearest friend, Joe Shein, who will be deeply missed and always remembered.
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