Independent Collectors

Bob Scholte

Ambassador for Young Collectors Circle

Bob Scholte with in his hands the art work 'Panoramalandschap met figuren' (ca. 1650) by Anthonie Jansz. van der Croos and on the left 'Spinnende vrouw' (ca. 1910-1920) by Wilhelmina Drupsteen.
Bob Scholte with in his hands the art work 'Panoramalandschap met figuren' (ca. 1650) by Anthonie Jansz. van der Croos and on the left 'Spinnende vrouw' (ca. 1910-1920) by Wilhelmina Drupsteen.

Bob Scholte is an art dealer who lives in the city center of Haarlem, the Netherlands. He studied history and art history at Leiden University and completed a master program in Art, Market, and Connoisseurship at the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam. Bob made headlines in 2020 when he discovered a work by the French cubist artist André Lhote on the Dutch online marketplace Marktplaats, which is quite similar to eBay. He also writes the recurring column 'Kunstjacht' ('Art Hunt') in the Dutch magazine Tableau, in which he shares his various art adventures. Bob specializes in Dutch late 19th-century and early 20th-century art and he has been living in Haarlem with his boyfriend for several years now. Their colorful home is filled with a mix of old masters, rarities, pinball machines and other intriguing objects.

''I don't really have a life without art. Not a single day passes, really, in which I’m not preoccupied with it. Collecting and trading art started out as a hobby for me. I share that passion with my mother, who used to own a number of antique shops in Zandvoort. We would often visit art auctions together. I was just five years old when I attended the auction in Haarlem for the very first time. I particularly remember the hustle and bustle of it. Paintings were being carried around, statues were moved back and forth on carts, and boxes of art were unpacked. Here, art seemed accessible and manageable, quite different from a museum, where I would usually feel a bit out of place. From the age of 13, I visited various markets to score interesting pieces and I would research them in the local library. I'd display them in my home, and if I grew tired of them after a while, I would just sell them. Every six months, I shifted my hyper-focus to a different topic, from pre-1800 glassware to Japanese netsuke.

The great thing about art is that it has the power to amaze and upset you. It can offer you a different line of thinking. Art can touch you on a deeper level and make you think about essential things that you might ordinarily ignore or brush over. Art can depict everything the eye can beyond, essentially, but also everything beyond that. I became an ambassador for Young Collectors Circle because I want to share my enthusiasm for older, more classical types of art. Additionally, I want to show that combining this type of art with contemporary art can enhance both art forms. In the end, contemporary art is often built on the foundations of older art forms. That is why they are uniquely able to enter into a symbiotic relationship."

"The great thing about art is that it has the power to amaze and upset you. It can offer you a different line of thinking. Art can touch you on a deeper level and make you think about essential things that you might ordinarily ignore or brush over."

"My collection exemplifies how older and contemporary art go together really well. I own an eclectic collection of paintings, prints, photography and drawings. My boyfriend Robert Lambermont is an artist himself, which is why we also show some works of his in the house: mainly kinetic sculptures made of scorched wood, glass and sulfur. Together, it forms a nice collection of rarities and curious objects. Because the walls are sloped — we live under a mansard roof — we only have two suitable walls to place art on. One spot is reserved for my boyfriend and the other offers room for my collection. That is why I usually don’t have a specific spot in mind when I buy a work. No matter how big or small, I'll usually find a place for it. Occasionally, I’ll place the paintings on the floor, against a wall. The location is always secondary to the artwork. Everything has to make way for the art. When I observe a certain quality in a work – which could relate to the backstory, the technique or the imagery – then I want to know everything about it and then I usually want to own it as well. I buy art with two goals in mind: to add a work to my collection or for the art trade. My own collection consists mainly of modernist Dutch art. The technical implementation and the condition are leading factors in my purchases. For me, a work of art must rise above itself. The art that I sell must also tell an interesting story. That might include a deviant kind of visualization, a piece that doesn’t necessarily conform to the oeuvre of the artist, or it might just be a really high-quality piece. But whether I buy it for myself or for the trade: it must appeal to me on a deeper level. If a piece that was intended for sale doesn't sell in the end, I just enjoy it myself.

I have occasionally regretted a purchase, for instance when I paid too much for it, or when it turns out to be a counterfeit in the end. I experienced a situation like that three years ago. I saw a 'Brillo' poster at De Oprechte Veiling in Haarlem with a handwritten signature: "Andy Warhol". I came across the exact same posters on the internet. Because my boyfriend works a lot with screen printing techniques, he was able to tell me that it came from the exact same screen as the examples on the internet. I thought: a green light! Someone else at the auction had the same idea so we ended up in a bit of a bidding war, that I ended up winning. However, the poster turned out to be a forgery, as well as the works on the internet. Eventually, I even found out who the forger was, a printmaker from the South of the Netherlands. That’s just how I am, I really immerse myself into a topic. Now, the piece is part of my counterfeit collection. But that is part of the job! You learn from your mistakes."

"You learn from your mistakes."

"The first artwork I bought at an art fair was a drawing by Raymond Lemstra: 'Personnage Fictionnel' (2020). It was shown in the booth of Mini Galerie during Art Rotterdam. From afar, the artwork looks like a portrait photo of a lady from the 1950s. The black and white drawing is quite realistic: you can count every curl of her hair and you can see the texture of the fabric of her sweater. Despite the many details, her face is completely abstracted. Lemstra is skilled enough to draw the woman as a whole in a hyper-realistic style, but chooses to leave out certain parts. There’s a tension between the nostalgic image and the technical ingenuity on the one hand, and the abstract and the anonymous on the other. That is what I like about this work. When I walked past it, I almost didn’t dare to ask for the price. In the end, it was not that bad and I bought it through the Dutch Kunstkoop art purchase scheme [that allows you to pay for a work in interest-free installments, look into that because many countries offer similar schemes].

My dream work? One day, I would love to hang a self-portrait in oil by the most tranquil Dutch artist: Jan Mankes. I would hang it in that particular place on the wall. I had the privilege of selling a total of five paintings by this artist, But it is unlikely that it will ever own one myself, as most self-portraits of his are held in public collections."

Many emerging art collectors experience a major threshold when it comes to buying art, but it doesn't have to be that way. You can buy art for tens of euros. Many people fantasize about buying art, but really: you just have to do it! You won't know if you like it, or even if you enjoy it, until you've tried it. Many of my friends feel anxious when they are about to buy a work; it becomes a really big deal in their heads. Some are concerned about their preferences or they might be ashamed of their tastes, but of course, you shouldn't worry about that. So just do it!

Another tip? Visit the viewing days of an auction. The Netherlands has more than 30 auction houses. Nearly every major city has one. Once you are there, you can come across the coolest things: design, both classic and contemporary art, furniture, et cetera. The most exciting moment takes place during the live (online) auction: what amount will the artwork sell for? It's a transparent new world that you can step into without much preparation. Explore, teach yourself to really look at things, and enrich your art world experience!”

Young Collectors Circle is a non-profit community-based platform, dedicated to supporting the arts. Based in Amsterdam, they organize various events throughout the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as some online content including masterclasses on how art is made and interpreted. For internationals living in the Netherlands and Belgium, Young Collectors Circle is a great way to discover the local art scene. For members outside of the Netherlands, they regularly organize meetups worldwide during art fairs and events such as Frieze London & New York, Art Basel & Art Basel Miami Beach, ARCO MADRID and the Venice Biennale.

Haarlem (1)