Erik studied Italian Language and culture at the University of Amsterdam. His bachelor thesis, about the symbolism of precious stones in Dante’s Divine Comedy was awarded a 90% score. He continued this research during his master, which he finished with honours and a 95% score for his thesis. With his research, Erik managed to unveil a previously unknown layer of symbolism in a book that has been studied for 700 years, adding new sources for the interpretation of Dante’s epic poem. Erik’s minor during his bachelor was history of Antiquity and the Middle Ages. He considers himself primarily a cultural historian.
He developed his professional skills further by doing several courses. In 2011 he did the Foundation in Gemmology course of the Gemmological Association of Great-Britain Gem-A, without doing the exam because developing a new business took too much time. In 2009 he successfully participated in the courses Marketing at the University of Amsterdam’s Business School and Strategic Communication at its Media & Communication Institute. In 2007 he participated in the Dante Summer School Ravenna organised by the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. In 2005 he attended the course Digging in the Past organised by the Royal Netherlands Institute KNIR in Rome. In 2003 he received media training and in 2000 he participated in the creative writing course of the writer’s academy ‘t Colofon in Amsterdam.
In 2021 Erik was guest curator 18th century jewellery for the exhibition The Forgotten Princesses of Thorn, staged in the Limburgs Museum in Venlo, the Netherlands. He arranged for several objects – including a diamond engraved by the great Lorenz Natter – from international museum and private collections to be included in the exhibition. In 2019 Erik was advisor to the curator of the exhibition Amsterdam City of Diamonds in the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, he acted in the same role for their exhibition Jews and the House of Orange. Erik was project manager and editor of the catalogue of the exhibition El Arte del Perfume (The Art of Scent) 1889-2014, held in 2014-15 in the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Spain, curated by Chandler Burr of the Department of Olfactory Art, Museum of Arts and Design in New York City.
Arts and Culture
In 2020 and 2021 Erik consulted the heritage jewellery brand Oscar Massin on the historic and design aspects and corporate identity of the start-up launched in 2022 by a trio of former executives of Cartier and Harry Winston and a designer for, amongst others, De Beers. Since 2019, Erik worked as European Consultant for the Eastman Johnson Catalogue Raisonné Project: www.eastmanjohnson.org, a collaboration between the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown NY and Boston University and the life’s work of Dr. Patricia Hills. Since 2019 Erik consults the Citroen family – an international dynasty of jewellers and car makers – on their heritage and archives. From 2014 to 2018 Erik worked with Dekker Antiquairs, an antique jewellery and clocks dealer in Amsterdam, doing their communication and object research, for example during PAN, Amsterdam’s fine arts and antiques fair. In 2016 Erik consulted the Swiss Hans Obrecht Foundation, dedicated to the Swiss-Amsterdam artist Hans Obrecht, which he researched as well. From 2011 to 2015 Erik collaborated with Guus van den Hout, former museum director, winner of the European Museum of the Year Award 2008 and former advisor to the Popes John Paul II and Benedict XIII, in a start-up called Guus&Erik Art Connectors. In that capacity Erik consulted on The Reclining St. John, Caravaggio’s last painting, and on the Van Soest Collection, a large private collection of fantastic-realistic art, which catalogue he edited. From 2013 to 2015 Erik was exhibition agent of Chandler Burr of the Department of Olfactory Art (see above, Exhibitions). In 2013 he was project manager of Burr’s Scent Dinner and Talk in Illuminum Fragrance Lounge in London. You can watch a video of the scent dinner here. In 2008/9 Erik was research assistant of Dr. Madelon de Keizer at the Royal Dutch Academy of Science/Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, for her biography of Albert Verwey, an important Dutch writer and thinker, especially during the Interbellum.
Erik has extensive experience as (copy) editor of magazines and other publications. Since 2018 he is copy editor of the peer-reviewed year book of the Historical Association Oranje-Nassau, dedicated to the history of the Dutch Royal House (see image). In 2019/20 Erik did the peer review for a 2-part article on the history of gem cutting in London published in Journal of Gemmology, the journal of the Gemmological Association of Great-Britain, Gem-A. From 2007 to 2017 Erik was copy editor of the Dutch magazine Royalty and its specials De Oranjes. Since 2009 he combined that role with that of jewellery editor for both magazines, publishing 120 articles about the subject. Erik freelanced for other Dutch magazines as well. In 2011 he authored the special 116-page glossy magazine Koninklijke Juwelen, which gives a unique overview of the European royal jewellery collections. From 2002 to 2008 Erik was editor of Arabesken, the journal of the Louis Couperus Association.
Corporate communications & public affairs
After a few jobs in corporate communications, Erik established his business Schoonhoven Communicatie in 2009. He worked as consultant corporate communications and public affairs, spokesperson and as copywriter for clients ranging from businesses and governments to non-profit organisations. From selling Dutch mini pancakes in Dubai to corporate communications for superyacht builder Jongert, Erik has done it all.
As PR-professional Erik has extensive experience in being a spokesperson and getting his clients attention from the media. But occasionally Erik’s work becomes news as well. In 2014, his scoop that Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands secretly sold one of Fabergé’s most important works of art – a nephrite presentation tray belonging to his wife – was national news in almost all media in the Netherlands for 24 hours. In 2019 Dutch newspaper NRC quoted my research on this subject extensively in one of their cover stories. That same year the news that Princess Christina, daughter of Prince Bernhard, was auctioning a drawing by Peter Paul Rubens (see image) caused much consternation in the media and politically, because the Princess hadn’t given Dutch museums the chance to buy the drawing from her. At the same time, she was auctioning objects from Soestdijk Palace, amongst others glass tulips by René Lalique, once given by diplomats to her parents as wedding present. Because I discovered both the auction of the Rubens and that of the Soestdijk Palace objects and because I contacted NRC to let them know, they had the scoop of this news. As a result of the media attention the Lalique tulips were withdrawn from the auction and transferred to the Royal Collections, and an independent committee of State was established about the protection of rare cultural heritage, which has led to changes in national policy.
From 2011 to 2015, Erik was a recurring talking head in the daily tv-show RTL Boulevard, about royal jewels. In 2012 and 2013 Erik was a recurring guest in the panel Young Thinkers of BNR Nieuwsradio. In 2008 Erik initiated a national discussion and protest against the budget cuts on humanities faculties at Dutch universities with his action committee Save the Languages.