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Lisa Heiden, the collector

By Betty Cortina-Weiss

While her friends from school were playing with dolls, recalls Lisa Heiden, “I was with my mom at yard and estate sales, auction houses and flea markets, collecting music boxes and sterling silver spoons.” A mere nine years old at the time, Heiden, now a resident of Venetian Island, learned from her mother the art of sifting through piles of what many regard as trash—and finding hidden treasures. “It became my passion,” she said, “and by the time I was 12, I even had my own China collection.”

Today Heiden collects much more, from exquisite mid-century furniture to ikat fabrics to silver boxes. “I like to say I’ve gone from collecting to curating now,” the Miami Beach native says. “But I still do have that hunter’s mentality.”

Indeed. She’s been known to stay up all night on eBay bidding on a special item, she’s a regular at estate sales, strategically arriving at 5 a.m. “to beat the dealers,” and she once sent her 20-something son, who was traveling in London, on a wild goose chase through a flea market in search of a particular fabric she was collecting at the time.“I don’t believe in paying retail for brand new things that have no sentimental value,” she said. “There’s always a story to everything I buy, and it’s often the story of how far I went to get it.” These days those stories are bittersweet. Heiden’s mother passed away earlier this year, not only leaving her daughter her own collections but also a deep sense of legacy. “Each object I have reminds me of something. My travels. My mother. My life.”

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