Simon de Pury Tells Us About His Latest Splurge and Shows Us His Highly Prized Bobblehead Collection
We asked the noted auctioneer about the things he values most—in art and in life.
So much of the art world orbits around questions of value, not only in term of appraisals and price tags, but also: What is worthy of your time in These Times, as well as your energy, your attention, and yes, your hard-earned cash?
What is the personal math that you do to determine something’s meaning and worth? What moves you? What enriches your life?
In this new series, we’re asking individuals from the art world and beyond about the valuations that they make at a personal level, in art and in life.
Naturally, one of the first people who came to mind was Simon de Pury, the Basel-born “Mick Jagger of auctions,” art dealer, curator, photographer, and DJ (aka the “Swiss Crocodile”)—not to mention Artnet News columnist.
Having recently launched de Pury Presents, which stages exhibitions in collaboration with artists around the world—most recently “Women: Art In Times Of Chaos,” a first-of-its-kind virtual show and live auction that saw de Pury’s avatar present works by contemporary female artists, with all of the proceeds going to the artists and the galleries that represent them—he gamely responded to our questionnaire.
What is your most treasured possession?
What do you aspire to own someday?
What’s been your best investment?
What do you most value in a work of art?
The emotional charge it gives you. The Dog by Goya at the Prado, or the Weeping Woman by Picasso at the Tate, or the Isenheim altarpiece in Colmar—they all tear you up and move you to the core of your essence.
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Who is an emerging artist you’d bet on making it big?
Jenna Gribbon. There is a plethora of figurative artists up and down Instagram today; they all work in a comparable style, yet when you look at her paintings, they leap out at you. They are sexually charged and there is a tension in them. The rawness of the paint and of the colors, and the originality of the poses, completely sets her work apart.
Who is an overlooked artist who hasn’t yet gotten their due?
Ross Bleckner. His early works for me reflect the poignancy of the AIDS area better than the ones of nearly any of his contemporaries. His painting is luscious, dark, and beautiful, and his more recent work, while solemn, is full of hope.
What’s not worth the hype?
What do you believe is a worthy cause?
Saving our planet. (Only 3 percent of global charities go towards environmental causes.)
What would you buy if you found $100?
Some royal bobbleheads missing in my collection. You can buy them in the souvenir shops around Broadway. It includes some not-very-savory characters and reminds me a bit of the Maurizio Cattelan chess set that has the villains on one side and the goodies on the other.
What makes you feel like a million bucks?
What is the last thing that you splurged on?
Ordering the new, top-of-the-range iPhone.
What is something that you’re saving up for?
The ultimate masterpiece.
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