The New York Observer Profiles Brett Gorvy on the Eve of Selling A Prized Basquiat
Meredith Bryan takes a look at Brett Gorvy, Christie’s low-key co-head of Contemporary art:
A slight South African-born Brit of aristocratic bearing who started in Christie’s London office in 1994 after several years as an art journalist, Mr. Gorvy talks fast and walks faster, partially hunched over, as though constantly en route to a meeting where millions of dollars are at stake (these days, he is). He was wearing an expensive-looking suit and muted purple tie, and his short hair was slicked back. At the sale on the 12th, he will stand on an elevated platform to one side of the room: working the phones incessantly, consulting with international bidders at 2 or 5 a.m. their time, placing their bids in increments of $1 million with a cool nod of his head. When Christie’s sold Warhol’s Double Marlin for $32.5 million in May, including fees, it was to Mr. Gorvy—or rather, Mr. Gorvy’s invisible clients. [ . . . ]
Still: “Every season we knew that the potential moment the music would stop was there and was just lih-terally within eyesight or on the horizon,” said Mr. Gorvy. Now, “I think in most cases there’s actually a genuine relief.” After all, there’s a certain stress in selling a record $385 million worth of postwar art in one sale, as his department did in May 2007. Where does one go from there? [ . . . ]
walking around the Frieze Art Fair in London, he was besieged by “angry dealers basically saying, ‘You’re to blame for this, you guys, you got greedy during the boom period.’ And you turn around and say, ‘Well, why is that painting on the wall at that price point? Why is your Richard Prince at $5 million dollars? It’s not because you priced it at $5 million, it’s because the auctions happened and the prices went higher and higher to the point where that is now the value point. So you’ve done extraordinarily well. Your second house in wherever is because of the auctions.” [ . . . ] it’s the buyers who make the prices, not the auction houses.
Bargain Basement Basquiats (New York Observer)