• at home with
    AT HOME WITH MICHAEL PHILLIPS MOSKOWITZ
    The Chief Curator of eBay invites us to his Soho home - a menagerie of rare collectables scoured online, alongside a growing collection of fine art.
    April 23, 2015  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    Chief Curator - a newly minted position at eBay, and perhaps the most enviable title in all of e-commerce. The honor belongs to Michael Phillips Moskowitz - founder of the men's curatorial website Bureau of Trade. Prized for searching deep within online marketplaces like eBay, uncovering their most covetable collectables, and pairing each with clever, pointed narratives, it seemed fitting when eBay acquired The Bureau in 2013, adopting Michael as its inaugural Head of Curation.

    With a deep cultural knowledge, rare wittiness, and an individual, yet time-honored sense of style, few could wear such a title as well as Mr. Moskowitz. Intensely passionate about forging human relationships with meaningful objects, he holds a deep, genuine respect for the richness of eBay's unparalleled assortment. An avid customer, even long before his days at the company, he's assembled a remarkable collection of rare objects, ranging from a 19th century matador suit to a fully-collapsible military campaign desk, largely scoured from the annals of eBay.

    These objects are masterfully placed within Michael's awe-inspiring Soho apartment - a stage now shared with his growing collection of fine art.
    A newfound hobby afforded by his recent successes, Michael's gallery wall includes works by Mark Flood, Matt Chambers, Jeff Zilm, Kasper Sonne, Stefan Behlau, Guy Yanai and Misaki Kawai - names of growing prominence in the contemporary art world.

    But despite his natural erudition and admitted privilege, Michael doesn't take himself too seriously, or his advantages for granted. Genuinely humble and kind-hearted, we've really enjoyed getting to know Michael since meeting him through a mutual friend several months ago. An earnest proponent of fellow entrepreneurs, Michael generously offers his advice, relationships and encouragement to support those who share a similar sense of vision. During our recent visit to his home, he candidly opens up about his imperfect past, while admitting that his success, like in most cases, came from a fortunate combination of hard work, and quite honestly, luck.

    Take a peek inside Michael's mesmerizing Soho apartment, and learn his tricks of the trade for navigating the treasure troves of eBay.
  • What does one do as a Chief Curator?

    eBay's entire experience is now centered around curated collections. It's an opportunity, not only to express ourselves creatively, but to present things we think are super interesting - things you're not going to find on Amazon, Etsy or anyplace else for that matter. We have to focus on the areas where eBay is uniquely positioned to win, and my team is largely tasked with that.

    Over the next 18 months, we're dramatically revising how we go about curating collections. Our vision is to weld together rich and emotional mosaics of merchandise that don't just tell a story, but entice you to learn and do more - to revisit your own relationship with the material objects. How might we revise the language, character and presentation to give you the experience that matters to you?

  • As a collector, what types of objects compel you most?

    I love rare on rarer. Truly rare earth objects, pried out of the bosom of the ocean, like the 19 pound piece of black quartz on my desk. They're all on eBay. We have petrified lightning on eBay! Where else could you buy petrified lightning and an Aston Martin?

    I'm always on the hunt for vintage Rolexes, for weird, vintage spectacles and sunglasses. I keep my eye out for vintage Louis Vuitton or Goyard luggage. Love the vintage Goyard, but it's becoming increasingly hard to find. And I love cars - always browsing the old cars.

  • ...
    "That's an antique fireman's trampoline that I found at an amazing antique shop in San Francisco. I just think that as a decorative piece, it's really interesting. And up there on the ceiling, I actually think it extends the room - gives a sense of elevation. It's also way bigger than you think. That thing is 10 feet across."
    - Michael Moskowitz
  • I think everything needs a sense of kineticism or movement. To me, a home is stifling, suffocating when its static.

  • “This place is always evolving, and it's highly imperfect...I don't want it to ever seem too studied, too purposeful, or too polished. ”
    - Michael Moskowitz
  • Do you have a philosophy - a set of ideals - around the home?

    I think by definition, a loving, inviting home has to not only be accommodating, it has to be flexible and evolving.

    That line of thinking may come from leading a sort of peripatetic life. I grew up in California, but went to boarding schools all over. I went to college in New York, but since then, I've lived in the UK, the Middle East, DC, California and now back to New York. I'm, quite literally, always on the road.

    I think everything needs a sense of kineticism or movement. To me, a home is stifling, suffocating when its static.

  • We agree. We like to say that the home should always be a 'work in progress.'

    Indeed. This place is always evolving, and it's highly imperfect. I've got a long way to go. I think we all do. But I don't want it to ever seem too studied, too purposeful, or too polished.

    The impression that some people might get, courtesy of how these things are sometimes portrayed in the press, is that life's all great - that I've got it all figured out. They may look at this and say, "I want that life!" What they don't know is that not long ago, I was 30-something years old, in debt, living at home with my parents. But two years later, life looks really, really different. The truth of the matter is, I got lucky. I got very lucky.

  • ...
    “That's a 150 year old Bedouin head dress. The first circulating currency in the Middle East was actually through the Bedouins.”
    - Michael Moskowitz
     Bedouin Headdress
  • ...
    “That's 19 lbs of black quartz, pried from the Earth in China. Another eBay find...”
    - Michael Moskowitz
     Black Quartz
  • Would you really call it luck?

    I'm not saying that it wasn't a lot of hard work - that there weren't 110 hour weeks, four hours of sleep for years-on-end, and that I didn't beg, borrow, plead - I never did steal though. I'll do anything in my human power to make things work, but I will not run afoul of my own principles. I know a lot of entrepreneurs who will do whatever it takes to do to deliver performance, but that's not me.

    What's the point I'm trying to make? The point is that, no, none of this would have occurred without a ton of hard work. Nevertheless, I'm intensely grateful to my colleagues, my partners, my friends, my investors, and everyone who ever believed in me. It's them who made this possible as much as I ever did. And of course luck played a role. Undeniably. Anyone who suggests that they secured a win singlehandedly is either unforgivably arrogant or laughably foolish.

  • What inspired the change two years ago?

    I was tired of floundering. I was tired of believing I was capable of doing something more with my life, but unable to realize it. I was resentful that all of my friends had the lives that I wanted and that I was the only one in the circle that wasn't able to enjoy those fruits.

    The other part was that I was sort of shamed into changing my lifestyle. In fact, one friend said, “If you continue on like this, I'm not going to be friends with you.” So, I just tried. I white knuckled it for a long time, and fortunately, I was able to find something else into which I could throw myself addictively.

  • I love rare on rarer. Truly rare earth objects, pried out of the bosom of the ocean, like the 19 lb piece of black quartz on my desk.

  • Our vision is to weld together rich and emotional mosaics of merchandise that don't just tell a story, but entice you to learn and do more - to revisit your own relationship with the material objects.

  • quick tips
    MICHAEL'S 3 TIPS FOR NAVIGATING EBAY
    eBay's Chief Curator, and true master of the marketplace, shares his secrets for making the most of its vast treasure troves.
  • 1. Get Inspired By The Collections

    "Start by going to eBay today, visit the collections, and look for things that catch your attention. Use that reaction as a point of departure. You might also want to open up Wikipedia or Google and start researching the things you're discovering. Identify new search terms and sort of let your mind, heart, and eye wander."

    "Ace of Space," - a collection inspired by Michael's home
    shop now via eBay
  • 2. Start Your Search At The Museum

    "You know what can actually be fun? Go to the Met or the MOMA, make note of what's in their permanent collections, and then search those terms on eBay. I promise, the results produced will shock you. You'll instantly get into this obscure realm of ephemera objects, art, antiques - things you otherwise wouldn't even know how to identify or categorize."

  • 3. Save Your Favorite Merchants

    "Be sure to save merchants if you find ones with a few products you like. There are a lot of really interesting mom-and-pop stores that are always getting new, crazy shit - and half the time, they don't even know what it is! The only person who can uniquely benefit is you."

  • The point is that, no, none of this would have occurred without a ton of hard work. Nevertheless, I'm intensely grateful to my colleagues, my partners, my friends, my investors, and everyone who ever believed in me...

  • I think by definition, a loving, inviting home has to not only be accommodating, it has to be flexible and evolving.

  • ...
    "Oh, the desk is a classic navy campaign desk that collapses into a single, transportable cube. It was originally in mint, but somebody buffed it out to expose the chrome."
    - Michael Moskowitz
     Campaign Desk
you may also like
for access to the complete article, please
SIGN IN OR REGISTER
Close Lightbox