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R.I.P. Peter McLeavey

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by Lindsay Shelton
All of us who are saddened by the death today of Peter McLeavey will be remembering his unique strengths and charm and persuasiveness, and the under-stated conviction with which he represented many of New Zealand’s greatest artists.

Anyone who bought a painting from his Cuba Street gallery will be looking again not only the art, but also at Peter’s elegantly hand-written receipts and invoices.

His life is well told in Jan Bieringa’s 2009 documentary The Man In The Hat, (in which Peter’s life is equally the story of the growth of cultural life in Wellington) and in Jill Trevelyan’s award-winning 2013 biography, Peter McLeavey: The Life and Times of a New Zealand Art Dealer,

A Listener profile by Sally Blundell in 2009 was headed “I sell, therefore I am.” She wrote:

McLeavey is an allegorist, a storyteller, a myth-maker … “But essentially I’m a salesman. I love selling. I live from selling.”

We all have fond stories about Peter. My favourite, which I told to him more than once, was about the day he showed me a beautiful painting by Michael Illingworth. “How much is it?” I asked. “$40,000,” said Peter. Ummm, I thought. To which Peter responded:

“Lindsay, if you have $40,000 in the bank, it is giving you no pleasure. Give me the $40,000, and I shall give you this beautiful painting, and you will hang it on your wall and it will give you pleasure every day.”

Peter’s quiet statement was undeniably convincing and I remember wishing that I’d had the money in the bank so I could have become the owner of a beautiful work that would indeed have given pleasure every day. A fine memorial for Peter: to be remembered as a man whose gentle persuasion resulted in pleasure for so many people.

OTN: Jim and Mary remember Peter
Lumiere: The life and times
Salient: The art dealer

1 comment:

  1. Henry Filth, 15. November 2015, 5:53

    Good article. Good man. We’ll miss him.