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José Daniel Barquero: “The most expensive thing I have ever bought? Moià Town Hall” | Culture

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At noon on the 10th, at the Ministry of Labor, a man in a suit presented a presentation in the hall of the Ministry of Labor. And a book, with a prologue by Vice President Yolanda Diaz: The clocks of the Ministry of Labor and Social Economy. It is not any spoiler It is worth saying that the book and the exhibition were about the same thing: chimes, hall clocks, pendulum clocks, electrical prototypes and other relics (the oldest ones date back to the beginning of the 19th century) that have passed through these corridors for decades. José Daniel Barquero (Barcelona, ​​57 years old) is the author of the book, as well as a collector of all kinds of things, lobbya doctor, economist, writer, director of the International Museum of Fine Pocket Watchmaking, honorary consul of Armenia and a few other things that make him, perhaps, one of the most versatile men in Spain. On his wrist he wears a Seiko, by the way, although he changes it every day.

P. Hey, one thing that drives many people crazy: why the hell do some clocks say IV and others IIII?

R. Well, in Rome, IIII was used instead of IV because it corresponded to the first letters of IVPITER, the most venerated God. As you can imagine, it was considered blasphemy to use the initials of their God to describe a mundane number IIII. And the tradition is inherited.

P. How did your passion for collecting watches come about?

R. I was born a collector. My passion was unleashed when my mother gave me an old pocket watch from my great-grandfather that, according to what I was told, I had broken when I was two years old. My meeting with him was unforgettable: the attraction made me study them to the point of exhaustion. Today my museum in Madrid houses about 2,000.

P. In the exhibition there is a watch by Carlos Coppel. I understand that, in addition to being a watchmaker, he was a spy.

R. Yes, he was German. He was sent to Madrid by the Second Reich. He started selling watches downtown, they were very good and cheap watches. He had so much fame that he ended up selling watches to Congress and the Ministries.

P. And how do you spy from a watch?

R. Think about the time, it was not like now: a clock needed maintenance, a watchmaker to repair parts, to set the time, to make sure it chimed on the hour… it was a regular presence in ministries and people did not interrupt their conversations in front of it, just like someone who gets into a taxi today talking on the phone.

In one ministry, no one interrupted their conversations in front of the watchmaker. That’s why he was a good spy.”

P. And what else do you collect?

R. All kind of things. Manuscripts of significant figures such as Federico García Lorca, Pablo Neruda, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rafael Alberti, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro… But many other things: butterflies, beetles…

P. Coleoptera! Like Neruda himself.

R. Well, I am the biggest collector of Neruda originals in Europe. I have originals of his that have not been published, and a book signed by him and Lorca.

P. Go on, go on: what else do you treasure?

R. I collect religious art, certain taxidermy pieces…

P. Do you collect taxidermy?

R. In fact, I made my first steps as a taxidermist, with Aquilino Pérez’s method. But many years ago; not anymore.

One of the most important clocks of the Ministry of Labor.Claudio Alvarez

P. What is the most expensive thing you have ever bought?

R. The City Council of (the Barcelona municipality of) Moià.

P. Don’t tell me you also collect town halls.

R. No, no, it is the building of the old Town Hall, but you asked what was the most expensive. It is very interesting: Moiá was the first town in Europe with a watch manufacturing industry. But after the Carlists came to burn everything, only 35 remain.

P. Some of you will have it, right?

R. That’s how it is.

P. What is the object that you keep with the most care?

R. You’re putting me on the hook… maybe a pocket watch used in polar research. Its fragility was such that the thermometer incorporated into the sphere made it break easily.

It is fair to recognize that among our clients are some of the great fortunes of Europe”

P. And the one you would most like to own?

R. A watch that goes up for auction tomorrow online European, but I won’t say the watch or the auction.

P. Besides being a collector, he is many other things. Honorary consul of Armenia, for example. And an economist. He also manages fortunes. How is that?

R. I run SER (Strategic Economic Relations), which is my business relations company with offices in London, Madrid and Barcelona, ​​which basically presents business opportunities to my clients. We are specialists in lobby, markets and audiences. It is fair to recognize that among our clients are some of the greatest fortunes in Europe.

P. Works with Baroness Thyssen; He is CEO of the Carmen Thyssen Collection. How do you collect paintings worth millions?

R. Well, knowing a lot, being the first to find out and knowing the painter perfectly. It’s easy.

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