Auctioneer and art world impresario Simon de Pury sits down with friend and cultural patron Daphne Guinness
to speak about connoisseurship and collecting in part one of a double-bill feature by filmmaker Johnnie Shand Kydd
. Chairman and Chief Auctioneer of renowned auction house Phillips de Pury & Company, De Pury is often referred to as “the Mick Jagger of the auction world,” due to his lively auctioning style. Fluent in English, French, German and Italian, the Swiss-born dealer also owns an important private collection of contemporary art, acquired over several decades spent with gavel in hand. “Simon is obviously a grand seducer, and there was this wonderful element of flirtation going on,” says Shand Kydd of the tète-à-tète, “You can't fake that kind of chemistry." De Pury splits his time between London and New York, where he will preside over the sale of a Willem de Kooning estimated at $15m and a $12m Jean-Michel Basquiat
at Phillips de Pury’s latest contemporary art auction this Thursday. “Collecting is a very personal and private occupation,” explains De Pury. “One does not necessarily wish to divulge one's passions.” That said, NOWNESS coaxed De Pury into revealing five of his favorite pieces from his collection.
A group of Italian 1950s plastic Disney characters that I found in a small antiques shop in Rome. I collect high and low. All works I buy tickle my curiosity when I see them first, and in my private collection I do not rank anything by price.
The desk, chair, lamp and Universe logo from the Star Trek movie that I bought from Pierre Passebon at the first or second Design Miami fair. After having seen one slick piece of pure and beautiful design after the other, it was very refreshing to stumble across something fun and leftfield.
One of Helmut Newton’s nudes, shot at Chateau Marmont, was the first photograph I ever bought. Since being a teenager I worshipped his work. I bought it in an auction in London and was forbidden to hang it by my first wife when I brought it home.
I’ve been obsessed with Christopher Wool's work ever since I first saw it in the Whitney Biennial in the early 90s. I have been fortunate enough to acquire several works of his at a time when it was still quite accessible. I love his most recent work with which he proves he is one of the Greats.
My most recent purchase is a large drip work by Piotr Uklanski. There is great variety in his work and he never ceases to surprise me.