In a previous post we highlighted the Tibetan collection we are offering in our April Hong Kong Sale. Here we share a bio of Alexander Boris Lissanevitch written by Wolfgang Bertsch, one of the world’s leading experts on Tibetan Banknotes. Wolfgang was instrumental in helping us identify the rare varieties and dates contained within Mr. Lissanevitch’s massive collection. We cannot thank him
enough for his expertise. His insight to Alexander’s life, and willingness to
share some of his relationship with this fascinating collector make for a very
important read for anyone interested in this collection, and its provenance.
Lissanevitch (20 Feb. 1952 – 6 June 2014)
Alexander was born in
Calcutta (now Kolkata), son of a Russian father and a Danish mother. I met
Alexander more than 40 years ago in 1974 in Kathmandu. At that time he was
married with his first wife Gita, a Nepali lady from Kurseong with whom he had
two children, Boris and Tamara. Tamara died tragically when she was around 20
years old, while Boris is now residing in Australia working in hotel
marriage was with Kabita Regmi with whom he had two daughters and one son:
Aslesha, Ayesha and Ivanhoe.
His father, Boris
Nikolayevich Lissanevitch (1905-1985), is remembered by many foreigners as the
person who in the 1950s initiated tourism in Nepal after having opened the
Hotel Royal in Kathmandu and subsequently Kathmandu’s most famous restaurant
“The Chimney”, visited by nearly all well known Himalayan mountaineers,
by writers and other VIPs who came to Nepal.
Alexander was an avid
collector of Nepalese and Tibetan coins when I met him in 1974. He kindled and
furthered my own interest in this subject. He was friend of several outstanding
Western collectors of coins of Tibet and Nepal, namely Carlo Valdettaro
(1921-1988), Nicholas G. Rhodes (1946-2011) and Wesley Halpert (1922-2010)
whose collections were enriched with the help of Alexander. In the 1980s he
sold some very rare Tibetan coins from his personal collection to Wesley
Halpert; coins which in 2000 he could buy back when Halpert had decided to sell
his collection in an auction held by Spink in New York.
When Tibet was opened for
foreigners in the 1980s, Alexander took this opportunity and travelled to Lhasa
almost every year to look for Tibetan coins, banknotes and antiques. During
every one of these journeys he came back with at least one outstanding and rare
item which he could add to his collection of Tibetan coins and banknotes which
grew to be the most extensive which was ever assembled outside of Tibet.
In 2013 Alexander had to
undergo a complicated operation in a hospital in Singapore after he had been
diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which had affected the pleura (the tissue
which protects the lungs). After the operation he had to spend some time in a
rented apartment in Singapore with his wife Kabita in order to recover from the
difficult operation. At this time I was preparing the auction catalogue of the
Tibet collection of Nicholas Rhodes and sent the draft to Alexander who was
happy to have some fascinating reading while he had to relax in Singapore and
could not lead an active life. I met Alexander in August 2013 in Hong Kong
during and following the auction of the Nicholas G. Rhodes collection (21st
August 2013). He still felt quite weak and had pain in the area of the lungs
and often had to go back to his room in the Marina Club to have longer rests.
In November of the same
year I met Alexander again in Nepal where I visited him together with a young
collector from Beijing whom we had both met in Hong Kong and who decided to
visit Kathmandu after we had encouraged him to make a journey to Nepal.
Alexander told me that apparently the Singapore operation was not fully
successful and that he had to travel to New Delhi for chemotherapeutical
treatments. Although he still felt quite weak Alexander was in a good mood and
proudly showed some of his Tibetan treasures in the form of rare coins to us.
In April 2014 Alexander
was still able to travel from Kathmandu to Hong Kong to participate in coin
auctions and attend to personal business.
Back in Kathmandu his
illness became more serious and the hope for a recovery dwindled.
Our Hong Kong paper money
auction will begin at 1:00 PM on April 3, 2017. To register to bid please log
on to our website and sign up for each session you wish to participate in. For
troubleshooting, please contact [email protected].
If you are considering consigning to a Stack’s Bowers sale, we are currently
accepting consignments for the rest of our 2017 auction season. For more
information, or further inquiries please contact our World Currency Specialist
at [email protected]