Rogues' Gallery: A History of Art and its Dealers

Nicholas Penny writes:

Simon de Pury, assisted by ‘a regular contributor to Vanity Fair’, has written a book about his ascent to the top of the art world: the auctions he conducted, the deals he struck, the parties he attended. It resembles a board game, with smaller parts assigned to the ‘hedge fund overlord’, the ‘polo-playing playboy millionaire’, the ‘James Bond of the Russian oligarchy’, the ‘French luxury goods tycoon’ (also appearing as the ‘French luxury titan’), the ‘serial dater of supermodels’, and the ‘leveraged-buyout king’. The book is illustrated with photographs of de Pury’s friends, such as Tita Thyssen-Bornemisza (wearing a ‘100+ carat diamond’), Al Taubman and Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis. De Pury was private curator to Baron ‘Heini’ – Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza – then chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, then established Phillips de Pury, which he hoped would ‘turn the auction house duoply that was Sotheby’s and Christie’s into a triumvirate that included myself’. ‘Courting Medicis is now what I do,’ he writes, ‘and every week seems to bring a trip to Qatar, Shanghai, or some other Neverland where fantastic people indulge their fantasies by collecting art. I’m there to help.’

(LRB 14 December 2017)

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