How I'd love to hate Gary Langsford. He does ask to be hated. He cultivates it, actually, in a horribly smug way which makes you want to shout at him and when you do, he sits there with his Cheshire cat face on.

He is well aware of his charm, as well he might be. He charms for a living and so he knows when not to bother wasting it.

He is the art salesman often described as one of New Zealand's most "influential" dealers.

But I wanted to see him because he's making a fuss, again, about the Khartoum Place suffrage memorial, including the stairs.

These lead to the newly refurbished Auckland Art Gallery and, not incidentally, to both of the galleries (the Gow Langsford, and the John Leech) he has an interest in.

He's been moaning about the suffrage tiles for years. He last tried to get rid of them in 2005 saying they belonged "in a 1970s craft shop".

Now he's running an urban design line. He says he can hardly get up the stairs and imagine what it'll be like when "800" people are trying to get up them to an opening. This is utter fantasy.

Another argument then: The water feature is always breaking down, is used as a rubbish dump and bums wash in it. He didn't say "bums" but that is what he means.

His real reason for wanting to get rid of the tiles is that he's a snob. "Not at all," he said, entirely unconvincingly. Oh, he is so. "Well, I suppose I am in some respects. I suppose I'm definitely an art snob. That's my business. I should know what I'm talking about." Being an art snob means what exactly? "It means saying, 'This is a great piece of art' and 'That is a piece of crap'. And that's the thing, you know. I think, particularly in New Zealand, in our kind of DIY society, we don't reward excellence, we don't appreciate people's expertise. So, it's that whole kind of: everybody is as good as everybody else. And we are a lovely little society."

Why does he live in a place he doesn't much like? "I'm too old to move." I did suggest people were likely to write in saying that he could sod off. He said he couldn't because he owes the banks so much money (he wouldn't say how much), but that if people wanted to start a fund to get rid of him, then great.

He's 58, a fact which took some dragging out of him. I asked if he was vain and he said he didn't think so but you could say he takes care of his appearance.

He has, in the Newton loft he shares with his partner, the equally elegant Vicki Vuleta, a very large walk-in wardrobe. I could spot one small area designated for her clothes. She said I wasn't the first to have noticed. "But," she said, "what can you do?" He always wears black so he doesn't, "conflict with anything I'm selling".

He tells me this is to be taken as "slightly tongue-in-cheek" but I don't believe him.

I've never before asked anyone what aftershave they're wearing but his almost knocks you out before he even enters a room. Should you ever require a substitute for chloroform, it's called 1881.

"You can't get it here - only in New York and LA. I don't know why, probably because it's old-fashioned. I love that, because it's different and I'm all about being different."

Dear, oh, dear. Putting aside the fact that he would use an aftershave available only in NY and LA, what on earth does the rest of that mean? "It just means trying to find things that not everybody's got. I detest mediocrity." Mediocrity is "beige, beige, beige". This offends him.

I managed to offend him by accidentally calling his loft an apartment. I'm still not sure why that was so wrong, but it went down as well as a suffrage tile covered in street bum vomit. I thought I'd better call him and ask who his architect was, having forgotten to ask. It is David Howell, who is a New York-based architect. Of course he is. He said, "He's a friend!" Then he said, about the design of his loft: "Well, basically, it's all me". Of course it is.

He has an ultimate belief that his taste is better than other people's. "Yeah, well, there are different kinds of taste. I respect other people's taste." Oh, he does not. "Yes, as long as it is informed."

Informed experts must have been involved in the design of Khartoum Place. It's not as if, I said, Dame Cath, as mayor, had put the damn tiles up herself. He said, smirking, "It looks like that! No. I shouldn't say that."

He claims to believe that he's going to get "shot down" over Khartoum Place because "I'm a man". More nonsense. "That's true. If I was a woman, I might stand a fighting chance." He said he met a couple of women, who work in the arts, in public institutions, at a cafe the other day and they said they supported him but couldn't say so. "I need a woman with balls," he said. Then, snickering, "I shouldn't say that".

He said, "You're going to make me out to hate suffragettes", but it was all his own work. Do people, I asked very politely, say: What a plonker? That didn't offend him. "Yeah. I get a lot of flak. Even from people I know. They probably think I'm a bit of a style wanker and somebody referred to me as a style Nazi. That was a bit insulting ... My first wife was a German!"

He says the tiles can be moved - and this is where I started shouting because why should anyone else have to look at them if they're so offensive to him? "You ask anybody. Any architect or urban planner, any artist, anybody in the visual arts, whether they want to retain them and 95 per cent say, 'no'," he said.

But last time the public overwhelmingly said yes to retaining them.

"Who are they?" he said. People who live in this city. "And those are the people who have beige interiors," he said, as though that sealed it. He wouldn't have a clue what interiors people have. "Well, okay, let's have a look."

I bet he sneers at people's houses. He says he tries not to, but in a way which suggests he usually fails.

I sneered at a hideous chair made out of cheap stuffed toys. He likes this chair (he has another by the same designers, the Brazilian Campana brothers, made of stuffed alligators) because it is "playful". He also likes it because he has the last two in the world. He doesn't like it so much he wouldn't sell it to you. "It's only 50 grand." He was not at all ruffled by my banging on about how horrible it was. He said, patronisingly, that he would once have found it hideous too but "my taste has evolved".

It is no surprise that he can't stand mess although he tried to demonstrate that he wasn't completely obsessed with his own fastidiousness - by showing me a towel, kept outside, on the roof garden.

The towel is to wipe the dog's mouth after it has a drink of water, so that it doesn't dribble on the floor. So there you are. His OCD is well under control. The dog has a fake Versace collar. "I mean, it's a great dog, but there are limits." I was surprised to hear this. "I know! But it's true." The dog eats out of Alessi food bowls.

I was trying to imagine what he must have been like in his former life, before he was an art plonker and played guitar in DD Smash. He still has a collection of guitars. "See, he won't sell his grandmother!" I asked if he did drugs and got drunk and had groupies. "What goes on tour, stays on tour. You know that."

I can't imagine that he was ever really messy even in his wild days, but he certainly once tolerated messiness in his artists. Now they are "civilised people", but in the bad old days he used to get calls from a pissed Tony Fomison, at midnight, asking him to go and get him more videos at the video shop; he also used to have to fly to Napier to pay off Allen Maddox's drug dealers.

Now, he says, artists are generally better behaved but demanding in other ways. "You've got to have a big ego to make good art." So what, I asked, does he do with his massive ego? "Well, you've got to sort of keep it in check!" He didn't deny the existence of his massive ego.

I wish I'd never gone to see him at home at his swanky, show-offy loft in Newton because it is so wonderful an education in great design that it underscores even his sillier arguments. He happened to mention, casually, that in his garage he has a bunch of Dale Frank works. You are supposed to know who Dale Frank is (a currently hot Australian artist).

His garage, it goes without saying, is entirely mess-free. It looks like a gallery except for the two Porsches (proof, I thought, that he was loaded - he said, "The little one's 10 years old! But it looks good") and his Harley-Davidson.

We went up in the lift which has surrealist wallpaper and tiles on the floor. Later, I said, about the tiles, to annoy him because he'd been annoying me for an hour: "Is that lino?" He said, "No! They are marble mosaic tiles".

So you can see that he is very annoying and, even more annoyingly, he really doesn't care what anyone thinks, least of all me. He says plenty of people have hated him and he didn't disagree with me (for once) when I said that, after this interview, plenty more will.

Well, serves him right. Still, I think he's fabulous and, despite the wilful daftness of his argument, he's right about the damn tiles. I don't want him to get off scot free though. So should the tiles ever come down, could somebody please arrange to have them delivered, on my account, to: Mr G. Langsford, Style Nazi, 55 Upper Queen St, Newton.