Georgina Adam dutifully mentions the BBC debut of a documentary about Simone de Pury in her Financial Times column:
The Man with the Golden Gavel is the come-hither title of a 45-minute profile of the ever-energetic auctioneer Simon de Pury “pencilled in” for broadcast on BBC4 for March 4. The programme follows “the baron” (a perfectly accurate description although I have never in all my years in the market heard him called that) for 18 months, trotting after him to various artists’ studios, smart hotels and salerooms. (Disclosure – the makers consulted me while making the film.)
The timing of the programme proved problematic; its apparent intention to portray de Pury as a gilded David challenging the Goliaths of Sotheby’s and Christie’s falls to pieces as the story progresses, along with the market for contemporary art.
There are some blips, as when artist Tom Friedman cuts a butterfly out of a Damien Hirst print which de Pury describes as “a multimillion-dollar work”; moments later the voice-over announces, “It’s a masterpiece worth thousands …” But there are no insights into the inner workings of the auction world, nor indeed of Phillips de Pury itself, while its acquisition by the Russian luxury goods company Mercury in 2008 and the relationship with Charles Saatchi are just touched on. We are left with what we know already – that de Pury is charming, elegant and as enigmatic as his business plan.
The Art Market: Of Quakes and Fakes (The Financial Times)