Colin Gleadell gleefully recounts his buddy Hugues Joffre’s career and transit to Phillips where he inherited a Giorgio de Chirico from the artist’s later period just before he returned to Italy for the final time:
Dated 1928-1929, Gladiators in Repose is a life-size, neo-classical style painting of Roman gladiators that was commissioned by the leading Paris art dealer Léonce Rosenberg for his home. It has come from the private collection of the Italian art dealer Gian Enzo Sperone and has never been at auction before. It was, however, competed for by Sotheby’s and Christie’s, but Phillips won and will be offering it with a $4-6 million estimate. De Chirico’s earlier “metaphysical” paintings, for which he is best known, have made much more, but this estimate is in line with the top prices for de Chirico’s mostly much smaller works of the Twenties.
The subject might seem appropriate for Joffre to embark upon his latest challenge, but his ambitions are not herculean, he says. “If we can grow from two per cent of the market to 10 per cent, that will do.” The idea is gradually to increase Phillips’ presence and not repeat the mistakes of the past. “Don’t buy pictures; buy people,” is Joffre’s motto, and there are plenty more experts whom he expects to make the jump to Phillips in the foreseeable future.
Art Sales: Phillips’ blank canvas (Telegraph)