• profiles

    Robert Bentley

    robert bentley, 65, gemstone dealer

    Sometimes the trip to northern Brazil can take a little over a day. Sometimes, if Robert Bentley misses the flight to the small town near the gemstone factory he’s been working with for more than 15 years, it’s much longer.

    “Then it’s a seven-hour drive, and you often get stuck behind a truck that’s going 15 miles an hour,” he says.

    He’s been making the trip to the factory several times a year since the 1990s. This was more than a decade after he met a man in a bar who sold stones to small-scale Arts and Crafts jewelry makers. That chance meeting started him on his career path. Not that he would ever refer to it as a career path — or a job, even. “I don’t think I’ve had a job since I cooked hamburgers in the Broome Street Bar in the late 1970s,” he says.

    This is part of the pull of Bentley, a stylish New Yorker whom we at AGEIST have known for years. Bentley’s the “brand behind the brand” to some of the top jewelry designers; his modesty and discretion are part of the passion he still musters for his work. But it’s what he’s learned to let go that I found very instructive.

    “I used to have more fear about economic insecurity or the success of my business, and I don’t anymore,” he says. “I have more confidence that I’m going to meet my responsibilities. My definition of success these days is meeting my responsibilities.”

    In particular, the livelihoods of the 14 people — and their families — working in the Lapidary in Teofilo Otoni. “A lot of my fear was self-centered…and that sort of disappeared. I derive a lot of meaning when what I do affects other people in a positive way,” he says.

    He’s also thrown a couple of curveballs into his life. The Commes des Garçons-wearing New Yorker who vacations in the south of France, three years ago bought a home with his partner of 15 years…in the Adirondacks, five and a half hours away. He still makes it into the city for work, of course, “But it doesn’t bother me at all. It’s so quiet here and the air is delicious.”

    Bentley, who also paints, has been focusing on living in the moment, which he thinks is the fulcrum of all creativity. “I think the more open you are to the moment, the fresher stuff is,” he says. “You have a greater sense of the reckless freedom of discovery — with your psyche and with your work.”

    I liked the ring of that. That “reckless freedom of discovery” dovetailed nicely with a thirst for fun and purpose that belied his 65 years on this planet. Bentley also had another phrase for it: “You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.”


    Previous articleJoe Lewis
    Next articleJohn Dutton
    - Advertisement -

    Don't Miss Out!

    Sign up for the AGEIST newsletter! It's FREE and delivered to your inbox weekly.

    Andreas Tzortzis
    Andreas Tzortzis
    He has worked as a journalist for the New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Newsweek and Monocle Magazine from Berlin and London before leading Red Bull’s mainstream-facing content platform, The Red Bulletin, from Los Angeles. He recently returned to his hometown of San Francisco with his small family. dre@agei.st
    - Advertisement -


    TWICE fans make entrepreneur “Feel Special” and becomes global “ONCE Uncle” overnight

    This is the remarkable story of Jack Phan, a 42-year-old tech entrepreneur, CEO, and now Korean pop influencer. What started with a single tweet...

    Training with Joan, Age 73

    Training with Joan.Hard is not impossible. We have been following the odyssey of Joan via Instagram. We confess that all we know about her...

    Iggy Pop, Bruce Springsteen, Anna Wintour: Is Cool Ageless?

    Seeing Iggy Pop (72) in the new Gucci Cruise 2020 video ad alongside Gucci Mane (39) and Sienna Miller (37)  gave us pause for...

    Why Did “Training With Joan” Get Such a Massive Reader Response?

    Every once in a while, we publish something that goes totally wild. Last week we did a short post on the Instagram account of...

    Crazy for Cryo (therapy). At Minus 185 Degrees?

    Why would anyone pay money to step into a chamber that is about as toasty as the dark side of the moon? Self-humiliation? Actually,...

    Linda Hamilton Is a Badass. Sarah Connor Is Back. Is She Ever.

    Linda Hamilton is 62. She looks 62. She is also the leading character of a massive blockbuster action film: Terminator Dark Fate. Let's reflect...