Robert Hoehn might be the only automobile dealer ever to employ valuable prints by the great artist Rembrandt van Rijn as props to motivate his sales staff.
That's right, and we're not talking about just Rembrandt reproductions here but prints made during the great artist's lifetime (1606-69).
Hoehn (rhymes with Owen) is a 21st century American car dealer who became obsessed with collecting prints made by a 17th century Dutch master who conjured dark, magical images using copper plates, acid, an etching tool and a press.
Hoehn, 63, co-owner of a Carlsbad, Calif., dealership group with 10 franchises (see box, Page 20), has shared the masterpieces he owns with his staff and with the University of San Diego in the form of two galleries he and his wife, Karen, have endowed.
Robert Hoehn keeps the light- and temperature-sensitive prints at his home except when they're on loan to art museums around the world. The valuable framed prints don't leave his home without a good reason.
This spring, Hoehn completed his core collection of about 20 Rembrandt prints from the 1650s portraying gospel subjects. After three years searching, he finally found the missing piece of the puzzle -- an elusive copy of the artist's 1651 "The Flight Into Egypt" -- through an art dealer in Duesseldorf, Germany.
Hoehn "has to be thought of among the top collectors in the world when it comes to Rembrandt prints," says Derrick Cartwright, director of USD's University Galleries, which the Hoehns have endowed and where his print collections have been exhibited. "He's been so disciplined and interested in quality, not quantity."