Michael Markley got his start
in the antiques business by accident, when he accompanied Meril on a two-year
assignment in Paris. When his
promised work permit never materialized, he found himself in the position of
putting his lifelong love of learning to good use – not only to find furniture for
their apartment but to satisfy his curiosity about the styles and
techniques that make French antique furniture both beautiful and durable.
Drawing on skills learned in his earlier
careers as a lawyer, a homebuilder, a retailer and a lighting designer, Michael
needed only to learn French while living in Paris in order to make his dream into reality and his passion into
a thriving business. Thanks to the
kindness and enthusiasm of many French dealers, Michael picked up the
"antique French" necessary to learn the business
from the inside out and to negotiate and buy his inventory.
returning to the U.S., Michael established M. Markley Antiques as a division of
The Markley Group, Inc. in order to offer the Château des Bois CollectionTM to
those in the U.S. who treasure beauty and fine craftsmanship. M. Markley Antiques
combines creativity and passion while ensuring the preservation of the work of
gifted craftsmen of centuries past.
works with designers for large projects such as hotels, but especially enjoys
working with individuals who contact M. Markley Antiques when starting or
adding to a collection of Gothic or Renaissance style furniture.
His background in the entertainment business has made Michael the optimal advisor for movie, television, opera, and ballet productions looking for that "wow factor" for their set design. Pieces from the Collection have appeared in productions of Boston Ballet, the Chicago Lyric Opera, and the TV series Reign. They have
also found their way into a "castle" on the coast of Newfoundland and a "chateau" in Nebraska.
Michael has been interviewed for numerous publications, including the U.K.'s Financial Times, about trends in the antiques business and his ground-breaking approach as a web-based dealer within a niche market (where we also sell furniture with beautifully carved niches).
Markley is an attorney who has spent three decades focused on cross-border tax planning for commercial enterprises. She is responsible for research and preparation of the description of each
piece offered by M. Markley Antiques. While doing so, she discovered the fascinating story of the first modern corporations, founded during the Middle Ages in France, and has published several articles as well as given numerous speeches about them. She enjoys highlighting the corporate governance system, adopted by their pioneering shareholders in the 14th century, which would have prevented Enron and other catastrophic failures
in the 21st century.
To her task in writing about antiques for this website, she brings a
background in the Arts. Her four
years spent as a Music Major in Vassar College's Skinner Hall cemented her
devotion to French Gothic architecture and Gothic Revival furnishings.
While at Vassar, she was a student of Eugene Carroll, who inspired her lifelong love of Italian Renaissance painters.
Awarded a Maguire Fellowship, she studied at the Music Academy
in Vienna, Austria, where she trained with the legendary Hilde Rössel-Majdan. As a coloratura soprano, Meril has sung in such iconic venues as La Scala, the Hollywood Bowl, Vienna Konzerthaus, and Houston Astrodome. She salutes her Viennese musical heritage each year by singing for Austrian National Day in Houston.
As a result of her overseas
experiences, Meril speaks three foreign languages (Spanish, French and German)
and can order a beer in several more.
She enjoys writing about travel, and the food and beverages that go
along with it, in her columns for the Newsletter of the Wine Society of Texas
(Greater Houston Chapter).
As an outlet for her passion to preserve and promote interest
in classical music, Meril previously served on the Board of
Directors of Mercury
Baroque, Houston's renowned
period instrument ensemble, and on the Board of Trustees of the Houston Grand
Opera. In 2016 she launched the Art of Business quarterly luncheon series to champion business people passionate about art and music. In 2018, she and Michael are helping Verreaux to launch its series of chamber music in The Woodlands.
Click on the links for a complete list of media,
including speeches, publications, and videos or to see UHY's Spotlight on Meril and her career journey from opera singer to tax advisor.
we lived in Paris, one of the most charming aspects of the antiques
business was seeing the dealers with their dogs. The
business required long hours in a shop and things could get lonely
between customers. So what better companion than a pooch? Most
were small dogs, frequently Poodles, and they all seemed uncommonly
smart and friendly, just like their owners.
True to that tradition, M. Markley Antiques needed a dog too and, for close to sixteen years,
Mischa filled that role with gusto and grace. Although he is no longer with us, his courageous and loving spirit lives on in our hearts.
Named after Mikhail ("Mischa") Baryshnikov, whose agility, grace, and
leaping abilities he shared, our Mischa enjoyed living in a home
filled with antiques but never had any accidents involving
While Mischa was not born into our antiques business,
he got there as soon as he could.
When he was a young pup looking for a home, he was taken by his owner
to her job at our Internet service provider, where Michael happened by one
day and Mischa promptly fell asleep in his lap. It was love at first
sight. But the little puppy was already promised to someone else. With little hope that anyone could possibly decline to take such a precious creature, Michael left his phone number with the owner in case things fell through. That evening the call came and we learned that we would soon have a dog. Before long, Mischa was home with us and fulfilling
his genetic role of protector, especially when cats, armadillos,
or turtles happened by the office window from which he surveyed his
Although he looked like a Poodle, Mischa was a Schnoodle
(Poodle-Schnauzer hybrid), combining the best of his French and
German heritage. His favorite things included long walkies on
the nature paths in the
Woodlands, visiting with his pals, squeaking his carrot toy, snoozing in Meril's lap while listening to music of his
preferred composers (Rameau and Telemann), and eating any kind
of cheese but preferably Neal's Yard Colston Bassett Stilton.
is a more recent addition to the M. Markley Antiques Team and came to us thanks to two
serendipitous encounters. The first
involved Mischa, who was sprayed by a skunk in the pre-dawn hours
as he ventured off the back deck to begin his morning toilette. While visiting the groomer's to seek out a
replacement for Mischa's violet collar that was doused by the skunk, the second
encounter occurred. Michael saw Margaux,
a 3˝ year-old apricot Maltese-Poodle mix who was up for adoption after being rescued from
difficult circumstances. It was love at
first sight, just as when he encountered Mischa.
Margaux has proved a challenge in helping her to overcome the lingering behavioral
problems from her former life. For
example, we learned that she had lived indoors and
had never experienced rain. The first time
we had a light drizzle and took her for a walk,
she was terrified and refused to budge. Since
then, she has been adapting to a host of new experiences.
Having a role at M. Markley Antiques has
helped her to focus and to adjust to a
stable routine Chez Markley. Her favorite
toy is a Mischa's plush carrot (see photo below) that she loves to shake and throw in
the air or to walk around the house with it in her mouth until someone
volunteers for a game of fetch.
While Mischa always enjoyed listening to music, we have learned that Margaux excels at performing and is definitely a dramatic coloratura (the same classification as Meril had during her operatic career of decades ago). During a practice
session for her annual performance at Austrian National Day in Houston, Meril was surprised to hear Margaux join in, matching pitches and intervals as arpeggios unfolded. We're still
not sure if Margaux was voicing her approval, howling in disgust, or aspiring to sing Queen of the Night -- but her abilities proved uncanny.
With Margaux's long, silky hair, we think she bears a certain resemblance to the
star of Botticelli's Birth
of Venus. This could help explain Margaux's fondness for Gorgonzola cheese
over Roquefort (although peanut butter may be her
ultimate treat of choice).