Armed with $250 in his pocket and a dream for a better life, Max Rau opens the doors to M.S. Rau Antiques in the 700 block of Royal Street, specializing in fine Victorian furniture, cut glass and decorative ironwork.

By 1931, Max had outgrown his small shop. He moves the business to 630 Royal Street where it would remain for the next 75 years.


Soon after, the second generation, sons Elias (far left) and Joe (left) join the family business, Elias as vice-president and Joe as secretary-treasurer.

Elias Rau

Joe Rau

The 1940s

It turns out that Max Rau's decision to set up shop on this popular thoroughfare was a good one. The Desire streetcar rumbles down Royal Street, past the store, bringing shoppers to New Orleans' most prestigious shopping area until 1948. Cut Glass and Southern furniture continue to be a mainstay of the shop.


With WWII behind them, Joe returns from the European front, and Elias retires from his wartime job building military boats. Business is booming, and they are once again running out of space for their ever-growing inventory. In 1946, a major renovation adds a second floor to the building giving them a little breathing room. The future is looking bright!


As the suburbs grow from the city's center, Rau finds a steady clientele for fine silver, porcelain, glass, furniture and, of course, its signature New Orleans ironwork!  New Orleans’ thriving tourism industry also brings customers to M.S. Rau from all across the country.


In 1939, Elias marries his sweetheart Esther, who would work part-time at the shop from the 1950s until 1985. They would have two sons, Morton and Jack, born in 1941 and 1944, respectively.

World War II

World War II brought new challenges to the business. Both Rau boys did their part to help with the war effort. Elias works at the store and at Higgins Shipyard building the landing boats that would storm the beaches at Normandy. Joe joins the Coast Guard and leaves to fight in North Africa and Italy.


Joe Rau marries Jody, who would become a familiar face at the store, working part-time well into the 1990s. They welcome their first child Susan in 1956, followed in 1959 by their son Bill, who will later take the helm of the family business as president.

Fanny Rau

By the 1950s, Max Rau has a full staff of family employees! As always, his wife Fanny serves as the Matriarch of the business, greeting customers from her captain’s chair at the front of the store. Up until a few days before she died, just shy of her 100th birthday, Fanny was a drawing card for M.S. Rau. People came from far and wide just to say hello and sit in the empty chair next to her for a chat. 

Specializing in Excellence for Over 100 Years

An M.S. Rau Timeline


Fifty-two years after opening M.S. Rau, Max Rau dies, leaving the business in the capable hands of his wife and two sons. Joe and Elias were the perfect team. Elias handled the books and was a whiz at repairing things. Joe was the salesman with an eye for buying great pieces to add to the store.

The Third Generation

In 1972, Elias' son Jack becomes vice-president, juggling part-time work at the store and a full-time job as an engineer. In 1982, after graduating from college, Joe's son Bill comes to work full-time, following in the steps of his dad and sharing his eye for buying and his talent for selling.


Could Max Rau have imagined that one day his meticulous ledger books would be replaced by a machine! Rau flips the switch on its first computer system...but handwritten invoices are still a personal Rau touch. Bill and Jack introduce a new way to sell antiques with their first official M.S. Rau catalog published in 1993.


After more than 60 years, Elias retires from M.S. Rau Antiques. He enjoys 5 years of retirement before passing away in 2000. Bill becomes president and ushers in a new era for M.S. Rau. With the business booming, he hires a sales team and adds a marketing department. A few years later, he hires a restoration team of talented artisans. By the end of the decade, this family-run business employs more than 30 people.


After 85 years, M.S. Rau Antiques began a massive transformation, starting with covering old concrete floors with new carpet and turning a once over-crowded space into a dazzling showroom. Important cut glass and fine silver remain a mainstay of the business with loyal collectors around the globe.

The 2000s—A Decade of Firsts

2000 — M.S. Rau takes it on the road, debuting at the Dallas International Antiques Show

2001 — M.S. Rau hosts “Silver Through the Ages,” an exhibit of important silver

2003 — M.S. Rau launches its first website and becomes a global business

2004 — M.S. Rau advertises in the Wall Street Journal

2008 — M.S. Rau wins Best Antiques Store in New Orleans

2009 — M.S. Rau travels to Dubai for its first international show


In 2001, Rau adds 5,000 square feet to the gallery with the purchase and renovation of an adjacent building. The property now extends from St. Peters Street to Toulouse Street...a full French Quarter block!


Hurricane Katrina devastates the Gulf Coast, leaving New Orleans submerged under water for days. More than 2000 people perished in the country’s most destructive natural disaster in history. Katrina changed the lives of everyone on the Gulf Coast, including the Rau family and employees. Joe Rau and Jack Rau lost their homes, as did numerous employees. The Rau warehouse, where many treasures were stored, was flooded, but the main gallery suffered only minor damage. We learned many lessons from that monster storm... first and foremost that the most important thing in life is life itself. We were blessed that no one close to us was hurt, and we discovered that our vendors and our clients were also our friends. In the dark months after Katrina, a dear friend in New York offered us a temporary gallery where we set up shop for several months. When we opened our doors again in New Orleans, we did so with renewed faith in our employees, our clients and our city. We put one foot forward and haven’t looked back. We weathered the storm and not only survived... we’ve thrived!


After earning her degree in Art History at New York University, Bill’s daughter Rebecca Rau joined M.S. Rau Antiques, becoming the fourth generation to work full-time at the gallery!

M.S. Rau becomes known for their fine selection of music boxes.

The 1980s

In 1989, the Rau family mourned the passing of Fanny Rau just 20 days shy of her 100th birthday. Friends and customers who remembered her fondly mourned as well. The store seemed a little emptier without Fanny.


Angelina Jolie is spotted wearing diamond earrings from M.S. Rau at the premiere of Benjamin Button!  Bill Rau seeks out the finest jewelry on the market, and the store becomes known for its rare gems and quality diamonds.


Art takes center stage as M.S. Rau builds a reputation as one of the leading Fine Art galleries in the world. Art collectors find important works by Vincent van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas and more in the Rau gallery.

Vincent van Gogh


Following Hurricane Katrina, Joe Rau and Jack Rau retired and moved from New Orleans to be near their children and grandchildren in California and Georgia respectively. Ever the salesman, Joe called Bill daily to ask "What did you sell today!" The Rau family and friends mourned Joe's death in 2007. Clients still recount fond memories of their encounters with Joe at the gallery and Bill relies on the lessons he learned from his dad every day.


In 2011, the Rau For Art Foundation was established to help foster and support art education in the schools of New Orleans. Each year, the Foundation will host an art competition amongst high school students. This year’s theme, Culture in the Crescent City, prompted more than 70 entries from students across the metro area. An elite board of local artists and professionals will select the winners of more than $17,000 in scholarships and a trip abroad to study art in Italy. The winners’ schools will also receive funds for their art programs. M.S. Rau hopes to inspire young artists to pursue their dreams.


Inspiring memories for a century. M.S. Rau marks 100 years in business with a year of celebrations for friends, family and loyal clients from across the country. The gallery has grown from a small family shop to a world-class gallery employing more than 50 salespeople, craftsmen and marketing professionals.



Now considered one of the world's foremost experts on 18th- and 19th-century European and American fine art, antiques, and jewelry, Bill Rau writes a definitive book on 19th-Century European Painting. Beautifully illustrated and lauded for its depth and insight, the book underscores M.S. Rau's standing as one of the finest galleries in the world.


M.S. Rau acquires two of the most historically significant buildings in New Orleans' French Quarter and embarks on a 5-year journey to restore and renovate them. The new buildings doubled the size of the showroom from 25,000 sq. ft. to nearly 50,000 sq. ft. allowing us to exhibit our paintings, sculpture and antiques in the way they deserve.

With our new gallery open for business, the time was right to begin renovations at our original Royal Street gallery. Max Rau expanded the gallery in the 1930s with a spacious second story, and by the 1980s, the back gallery ran almost the full length of a French Quarter block. When completed, this newly renovated space will serve as our expansive jewelry boutique! 


622 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Specializing in Excellence for
Over 100 Years

An M.S. Rau Timeline

The 2000s
A Decade of Firsts

Celebrating 100 Years

Soon after, the second generation, sons Elias and Joe join the family business, Elias as vice-president and Joe as secretary-treasurer.

Art glass is very popular, and M.S. Rau carries the finest selection in the South.


After more than a year, the massive renovation of our original gallery was complete. In October 2021, we unveiled our amazing new jewelry gallery, filling it with an unparalleled selection of stunning jewels befitting royalty. We kicked off the Grand Opening with Crowning Jewels, an exhibition featuring incredible designer names, gemstones of exceptional rarity and high jewelry pieces with royal provenance.

Bill Rau with daughters Rebecca and Hannah Rau at the Jewelry Gallery Grand Opening.


To mark the occasion of our 110th anniversary, we unveiled a special jewelry collaboration with famed jeweler Oscar Heyman, who was also celebrating 110 years in business. The 110 Collection includes twelve one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by classic designs from the 20th century, with each accompanied by a hand-signed preparatory rendering of the piece. This collection is available exclusively through M.S. Rau.

Celebrating 100 Years

Watch the 110 Collection Video


Celebrating 100 Years


Our 110-year celebration culminated in the opening of the monumental art exhibition Revolutionaries: The Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Boasting more than 50 important works by history's most famous artists, such as Renoir, Monet, Sargent, Pissarro and Toulouse-Laturec, the exhibition opened to enthusiastic reviews and is our largest to date.


Claude Pissarro
Les Coteaux de Thierceville, temps gris


Watch the 110 Collection Video