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The Auctioneer

Adventures in the Art Trade

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


In the glamorous and secretive world of art, Simon de Pury is the ultimate insider. Having elevated the auction into performance art, he is the most famous of all auctioneers. He has been chairman of the global auction house Phillips de Pury, challenging the duopoly of Sotheby's and Christie's. Before that, he was director of the Thyssen Collection, one of the world's greatest private art collections, then the chairman of Sotheby's Europe. For his style, his longevity and his unprecedented success as an auctioneer Simon has been called the Mick Jagger of the art world, but he is also a major collector and dealer in his own right, and a consultant to heads of state and heads of corporations.

The Auctioneer gives us a brilliant behind-the-scenes look at the multi-billion-pound international art dealing world - where on a single night a major auction can rack up sales totalling more than £100 million; artists rub shoulders with some of the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet; and sometimes the buyer really should beware.

From Publishers Weekly

29 February 2016 – In this eye-opening memoir, de Pury, a distinguished auctioneer and art dealer, provides a lively account of his flashy career and today's soaring art market, revealing a jet-setting, powerful, and private club of elites who buy, sell, and collect the world's most expensive art. De Pury fondly remembers his childhood home in the Swiss city of Basel, where art flows "in the veins of its citizens" and where he became hooked on art at a young age. He describes his formative first trip to American art museums, his frustrations as a failed artist and student, and his struggle to find a career within the art world. De Pury also details his slow climb to the top at Sotheby's, aided by larger-than-life mentors such as Peter Wilson, previous chairman of Sotheby's and a closeted gay man rumored to be both a KGB agent and the inspiration for Ian Fleming's James Bond. Though the narrative is often witty (the author's brief interaction with Arnold Schwarzenegger is highly amusing), the writing is weirdly exaggerated and unfunny at times, such as when de Pury compares himself to Stalin's victims when describing the Russian Mercury Group's takeover of his auction house, or when he calls himself a "drug orphan" after his father, a lawyer for a pharmaceutical company, was promoted and transferred to Tokyo. These quibbles aside, the book provides an interesting glimpse into a world of artists, collectors, and dealers in which "the call of the gavel was the call of the wild." Color photos.
The Auctioneer
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  • £5.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biography
  • Published: 01 January 2017
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books
  • Print Length: 369 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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