Meet The Count of Plettenberg And His Fabulous Collection Of Rare Objects
Last month, Tatler Thailand visited the Lotus Arts de Vivre boutique at the Anantara Siam Bangkok for a special presentation of treasures collected by one German Count of Plettenberg, Ralf Ohletz. Long time friends with Rolf von Bueren, the noble descendant shares the same eye and passion for old-world heritage and artistry with Lotus’ founder. Amongst the 1,000 pieces Lotus has curated from Ralf Ohletz—a mere tip of the iceberg of the Count’s total collection—many are antiques of cultural significance, including obelisks, Balinese Rangda masks, Ming Dynasty sculptures and Buddhist ceremonial fans.
To understand how one has amassed such an extraordinary collection of rare items over decades, Tatler Thailand sat down with the Count to talk about what looks to be a life-long hobby of discovering and creating masterpieces.
Can you pinpoint when in life you started collecting rare objects?
I have never thought of my pursuit in such a formal way. I think I just organically come across so many wonderful things and craftsmanship as I’m in the business of developing hotels worldwide, lifestyle hotels in particular. So, my life has long been related to curating and creating things. It really started off with accessories. For instance, plates at dinner parties, some from Lotus. In fact, I’ve had many things made from Lotus over the years. It then evolved to include objects as well. It’s all just for fun. I’ve been collecting and creating things for so many years, I had my own personal craftsman in Bali up until his passing recently.
Can you explain the creation part of your fabulous hobby that not many people might know about?
Yes, so I don’t just collect items, but I modify or add to them as well. For instance, the krisses, or Indonesian ceremonial daggers—they were quite plain when I acquired them. They didn’t look as you see them now. I went to a craftsman and said ‘put gold, put silver, put gems here’ and he executed it for me. I just love seeing something that is beautiful. It’s not just about possessing beauty but creating it as well.
Why have you decided to collaborate with Lotus to sell a thousand of your items?
For me, it is a passion to create, and I’m constantly stimulating my mind by doing that. I love the process more than anything and owning objects, it’s nice but it’s not easy. I’ve been living here in a big house for the past 13 years, and with my son recently moving out to study in the UK, I’m moving back to an apartment. So, we thought it was a good idea to reduce some of our items because my house is full of things. And, of course, I have a good relationship with Lotus, and I’m a lousy businessman. They understand exactly what I’m about and have similar passions, so I couldn’t have trusted my things to better hands in Thailand.
I just love seeing something that is beautiful. It’s not just about possessing beauty but creating it as well.
— Ralf Ohletz Count von Plettenberg
We have to ask—about how big exactly is your total collection?
I really don’t know... but 1,000 pieces off of it is really not noticeable.
Can you tell us about your personal style?
I don’t like brands. I don’t like to buy fashion. You don’t need to buy fashion to be fashionable. I don’t like logos on anything. I like understated yet distinguished. I like to create my own style. I can pair plain Uniqlo pants with an expensive shoe, but it won’t be a Gucci shoe. Same goes with my preferences for fragrance. I have a hotel in Provence, and I go to a very small producer of perfumes there who makes a very small batch for me. It’s only lavender with a small pinch of rose, and it has no name. I never buy anything from a dutyfree store. I like the idea of discovery.
Tell us something random about yourself.
On my 25th birthday, the UK’s Tatler covered my party.
To see Lotus Arts de Vivre’s Ralf Ohletz Count von Plettenberg collection, visit lotusartsdevivre.com.