After taking a swipe at Charles Saatchi during the Frieze auctions, the The Economist returns to tackle Philippe Ségalot and the Phillips de Pury Carte Blanche sale assembled by the private dealer.
For “Carte Blanche”, French-born Mr Ségalot was, in his own words, the “chef d’orchestre”. The works consigned for sale went through his office rather than Phillips’s art department. So did the paperwork for the pieces that he purchased on behalf of his clients. In return, he received a percentage of the buyer’s premium. […] On the night, some astonishing prices were paid for unlikely works. […] But the art world suspects that some of the buyers may be less than delighted in the long run.
The auction was certainly distinctive. On a number of lots, Mr Ségalot was seen to be bidding against his assistant, Ali Rosenbaum, and also his business partner, Franck Giraud. All three would have been representing collectors. Asked whether acting for buyers as well as for sellers on the same lot might constitute a conflict of interest, Mr Ségalot insisted it was not a problem. He said he went to his clients before he committed himself to “Carte Blanche” […]
Financial guarantees also helped secure a number of consignments. […] Seven of the 33 lots in “Carte Blanche” were guaranteed, a far higher percentage than offered either by Christie’s or Sotheby’s in their contemporary-art sales the same week. (Christie’s offered guarantees on seven out of 76 lots; Sotheby’s only on four out of 55 lots). On the night, Mr Ségalot and his assistant, bidding on behalf of their clients, bought six of the seven guaranteed lots—four of which made record prices.
How these sales are different from what Ségalot and his partners do on a daily basis–except for the fact that it was done in public–is not explained.
A Passion that Knows No Bounds (Economist)