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'I am demanding, but caring too'

Osian's head Neville Tulli talks to Princy Jain about art, his gambling days in London and perfectionism.

art and culture Updated: Jul 27, 2007 14:48 IST
Princy Jain

On a professional level, he's known as a perfectionist. On a personal level he has a reputation - some call him rude, others feel that he is difficult.. he reasons this with aplomb. Meet Neville Tulli - the man behind the country's premier art auction house Osian's.

Born in England, educated at Oxford University and London School of Economics, Tulli has made his mark felt in the art world as a reputed curator.

Hard taskmaster
"It's no different than the way I treat myself," Tulli asserts. "I believe in giving merit its due. One has to be true to oneself in order to be true to others. I set certain standards for myself and there's no concession when it comes to the assessment." <b1>

"Why should it be different for others? Ask my staff I am demanding, but I am caring too, when it comes to their needs. I can be harsh but that's never without a reason," Tulli says.

Living it up
He pauses to lend an ear to the ongoing discussion at Osian's Cinefan Film Festival and then continues, "I have worked for 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for 10 years.

"Today people talk about art as a medium of expression, as the most lucrative investment proposition. I could do it because I loved my work. There was criticism, and as one grows, it will increase. I've had my share."

Step ahead
He swears by his current passion and flashes a smile as he talks about his gambling days.

He says,"I have spent decades as a crazy gambler on the racing greens of London." Besides the money, Neville also learnt a lesson. "Gambling teaches you to let the uncertainty be. Every man is a gambler. Only the capacity differs."

"There's so much to do. From creating better archives for art and cinema to bringing out more books. And with this year's response to Osian's Cinefan, I am certainly a step ahead," he concludes.

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