Simon de Pury

by Amy Michelle Smith Photographed by == PART 1 CONTEMPORARY ART Presented by SIMON de PURY and the Directors of PHILLIPS de Pury and COMPANY== Phillips de Pury and Company, NYC== May 6, 2011== ©Patrick McMullan== Photo-JIMI CELESTE/patrickmcmullan.com== ==
Monday, June 20, 2011

The chairman and chief auctioneer of the leading global auction of its topic, Phillips de Pury & Company auction house, Baron Simon de Pury, born in Basel in 1951, is not only renowned for his endless knowledge of contemporary art, design and photography, but also for his charming wit and style when commanding the podium. Always decked out in a double-breasted bespoke suit and silk ties, de Pury can sell art in four languages: English, French, German and Italian. As a teenager, he wanted to be an artist himself, having studied Japanese painting techniques at the Academy of Fine Arts in Tokyo in the 1970s, but now de Pury is happy to turn his favorite artists into successful and rich art stars. For example, he’s taken Richard Prince’s work from about $50,000 to about $10 million a pop. Plus, Prince has had a retrospective at the Guggenheim. Early in his career, De Pury joined the job forces of Bern auctioneers and Kornfeld and Klipstein and studied at Sotheby’s Institute. Then, after working for Sotheby’s London, Geneva and Monet Carlo, De Pury went on to curate the historic Thyssen-Bornemisza collection in Lugano. Returning to Sotheby’s as Chairmen of Sotheby’s Switerland and, later, Chairmen of Sotheby’s Europe, de Pury used his sharp business acumen to become the company’s Principal Auctioneer. The savvy businessman conducted all of the company’s major sales in Europe, among them being the Thurn and Taxis sale in Geneva and Regensburg, Margrave sales in Baden-Baden and all the major impressionist sales in New York. As co-founder with Daniella Luxembourg of de Pury and Luxembourg Art, de Pury specialized in the sale of Impressionist, Modern and Contempoary art, Jewelry, Photography and 20 and 21 Century Decorative Arts. The firm soon merged with Phillips Auctioneers to become Phillips. The new company was then relocated to the Meatpacking district in Chelsea. As an accomplished curator with a sharp eye for rising talent, de Pury recently succumbed to the siren call of reality TV, becoming the Tim Gunn of Bravo’s “Work of Art”, a battle between fledgling artists to become America’s next big art star.


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