After starting out four decades ago with a $6,000 loan and a lot of Chinese porcelain, Joel Chen is today one of L.A.’s most admired antiques dealers.
‘Joel Chen is a master curator,’ says John Hoke, Chief Design Officer of Nike. ‘His eye, his knowledge and his point of view are razor-sharp.’ Hoke, who has known Chen and bought from him for many years, says the dealer’s collection is like his mind: ‘They are both thoughtful and powerful. Simply put, he’s the gold standard.’
Born in Shanghai, Chen opened his Los Angeles store, JF Chen, more than 40 years ago. It was a decision he can trace back to one specific incident: ‘I earned an anthropology degree and went to work for my father in the jewellery mart in downtown L.A.,’ Chen told ELLE Décor in 2012. ‘One day I saw an antiques store on Melrose Place, but they wouldn’t admit me, saying it was for trade only. So I decided to open my own store. I borrowed $6,000, flew to Hong Kong, and bought a lot of porcelain.’