Simon de Pury: Are you worried about a recession's effect on the art market?
One of the art world's leading figures, Simon de Pury is renowned for his deep and long-standing knowledge of the global marketplace and his legendary auctioneering style. He generates excitement in the saleroom with a display of great wit and can conduct sales in four languages-English, French, German and Italian.
Born in Basel in 1951, Simon de Pury studied at The Academy of Fine Arts in Tokyo in the 1970s. After working at the auctioneers, Kornfeld & Klipstein in Bern and subsequently studying at Sotheby's Institute, Simon de Pury joined Sotheby's working in London, Geneva and Monte Carlo.
In 1997, Simon de Pury co-founded with Daniella Luxembourg, de Pury & Luxembourg Art, a Geneva-based art advisory firm. In 2001, this firm merged with Phillips Auctioneers to become Phillips, de Pury and Luxembourg which specialized in the sale of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art, Jewelry, Photography, and 20th and 21st Century Decorative Arts. In 2004, Simon de Pury became the majority shareholder and Chairman of Phillips de Pury & Company.
Simon de Pury: First of all I think that any market, whatever it is, cannot develop only in one direction. I mean I think it’s the essence of markets. Let’s say we’ll move and change, and that certain things will go up. Certain things will stay flat. And certain things may go down. Overall if you observe the way the art market has developed since the mid-19th century, the overall curve is only moving upwards. So if you take a long-term view of things, you cannot go wrong by buying the best quality. Tastes evolves. What we love today may not be loved in 30, 40 years from now. But if you buy the best quality given the field that you focus in, automatically it’s going to go up in value. And there is a question of scarcity because every year thousands of works of art end up in public collections, in museums. And those works are never coming back into the marketplace. So it’s not just an issue of money. It’s an issue of availability. Today even with unlimited amounts of money, you can no longer do the best ...collection in the world. It’s impossible. You can no longer do the best impressionist collection. It’s impossible. You can probably no longer do the best modern collection. However you can do the best contemporary arts collection in the world. And so . . . But in five, 10 years from now, you won’t be able to find the best Jeff Koonses anymore, the best ... anymore. Those works will be gone. So that leads me to think that in long term, the art market will only go from strength to strength. Of course there will be moments of slow downs, of change in fashion. But the basis for the international art markets is much wider than it’s ever been. It’s truly global. But it’s linked to emotions. It’s linked to feelings. So if everybody feels, “My god, we’re going into a crisis. It’s really, really tough,” then maybe you feel less like spending if the mood is ebullient and very positive around you. So that’s a psychological factor which is very difficult to gauge. So at the end of the day you should follow your passion, buy what you love, and you can’t go wrong in the long term. Recorded on: 2/7/08
If you take a long-term view, de Pury says, you can only be optimistic.
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