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The Company He Keeps

A store owner, his partner, their Chihuahua, and a multitude of mute onlookers.


Photographs by Douglas Friedman

Federico de Vera likes being surrounded by people—“silent people,” he clarifies, namely portraiture subjects with imagined psyches and made-up names, like Gay Napoleon and Mean German. Objects with rich psychic lives are a specialty in De Vera’s two eponymous shops—one in Soho and a soon-to-open location on the Upper East Side—known for their “anti-retail” mix of artwork, antiques, and jewelry. A similar bohemian grandeur enlivens the apartment De Vera shares with partner Randy Saunders, at 20 Pine Street in the financial district, an area not often associated with aesthetic provocateurs. “It wasn’t necessarily the neighborhood that sold us,” says De Vera. “It was the building and its amenities,” which include sleek Armani/Casa kitchens and bathrooms and a basement pool and spa. Even a man with a classicist’s taste for Viennese glass and Turkish carpets can go weak-kneed for an indoor pool.


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