Barakat is owned by Fayez Barakat. Born in 1949 into an old farming family, Barakat was exposed to ancient art at a very young age. The family owned vineyards in the Hebron Hills in Palestine and villagers ploughing the fields would often unearth tombs. Rather than discarding the artefacts, as was often the case at the time, his grandfather preserved pieces and intermittently took some to the marketplace, along with the family’s produce, selling them to foreign tourists. Barakat, meanwhile, spent his formative years working alongside British archeologist Kathleen Kenyon, developing skills in the basic principles of field archeology, and he would later apply his passion to studying under renowned Middle Eastern scholars and archaeologists Nelson Glueck and William Dever. His interest, in particular, was in ancient coinage, though he would become a fervent student of whatever new period of art took his interest.
Barakat London directors Isobel Lister, formerly of Hauser & Wirth, and Janis Lejins, a graduate of the Royal College of Art, share the aim of making the gallery’s rich collections accessible to new audiences, young and old, and connecting ancient art with contemporary culture. Over the course of 2019, they will be re-launching Barakat London and renovating its Mayfair townhouse, with the aim of creating a project space on the ground floor to present a changing programme of exhibitions, as well as spaces on the upper floors housing the gallery’s extensive collection of ancient art. One floor will focus purely on Chinese antiquities. Another will be dedicated to Fayez Barakat’s paintings.