to become truly conversant in the fi eld.17 The
Commission des commissaires-priseurs offi cially
recognized the two men as experts at the same
time. Perhaps to test their partnership, they
worked together on the sale of an important collection
of antique furniture and tapestries at the
Hôtel Drouot on March 13, 1931. The auction,
Le Figaro reported, marked “their debuts as experts
in art and furniture,” and its great success
“proved their indisputable competence and won
them the unanimous support of even the most
Of course, Ratton and Carré had more in mind
than sales of conventional antiques. The fi rst of
their three legendary 1931 ethnographic art auctions
would happen eight weeks later on May 7,
the day after the offi cial opening of the Exposition
coloniale internationale. Evidence in Ratton’s
archives indicates that he and Carré had
begun planning this coup de commerce in mid-
1930, months before their offi cial recognition as
experts. Early that summer, they traveled to London,
where they visited the private museum that
William Ockelford Oldman had established in
1927 after retiring from a long career as a dealer
of ethnographic objects. Ratton and Carré offered
to organize an auction of material from
Oldman’s collection in Paris. Rather than listing
the pieces as property from an anonymous collector,
as was the norm in sales of this type, Ratton
and Carré wanted to name Oldman in the
catalog. Oldman expressed doubts about this
move, because at that point he intended to sell
only “my duplicates and pieces I do not wish to
FIG. 22 (left):
Page from the 1931 AAO
catalog showing fi gure 23.
Image courtesy of the author.
FIG. 23 (right):
Bow stand with female
fi gure (detail), attributed
to the Warua Master.
Luba; DR Congo. C. 1880.
Wood. H: 64.4 cm.
André Lefèvre, Paris; Étude Bellier,
Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 7 May 1931,
lot 97; René Mendès-France, Paris;
Morris Pinto, Paris and New York;
Sotheby’s, London, 16 June 1980,
lot 1980; Carlo Monzino, Lugano;
Entwistle, London; private collection,
USA; Entwistle, London; Christie’s
London, 9 July 2015, lot 110.
Photo courtesy of Christie’s.