Join the oligarty party

The art world’s love affair with Russian money continues. After Roman Abramovich snapped up works byphillips Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon, he then shipped half of London’s arterati to the opening of his girlfriend Dasha Zhukova’s CCC Garage in Moscow. Now auction house Phillips de Pury & Co have been bought by Russian retail giant, the Mercury Group, who also hosted Gagosian’s first foray into the lucrative emerging market with a 2007 showcase at their Luxury Village mall. Although Simon de Pury will remain chairman and no doubt auctioneer, the obvious next step will be to try and set up shop in Russia and shore up some of the lucrative business opportunities there.

This seems to be part of a concerted masterplan to muscle in on traditional Sothebys and Christie’s territories, not least back in London where Phillips de Pury have done a sponsorship deal with the new Saatchi Gallery to allow free entrance for the public when it opens this week. Not only does the auction house get a dedicated gallery in the Saatchi Gallery, but there’s also a tacit agreement that the collector will sell through Phillips in the future (although how the relationship will weather this news remains to be seen). What next for the great Russian takeover? White Cubeski, Tate Petersburg or MoscoMA?

1 thought on “Join the oligarty party”

  1. I am not sure I would feel too sorry for Phillips nor too worried about Mercury’s involvement in the sector, given the current global economic climate. The original press release said that Mercury had acquired control of Phillips de Pury and that Simon de Pury retained the role of Chairman and remained “an important shareholder in the company”. Assuming the price was respectable, this looks like an extremely well timed (partial) exit by SdP. It provides him with cash at a what is the beginning of difficult times for the auction sector and yet leaves him notionally in charge of the business he rebuilt. Sounds more like a coup for dePury than a success for Mercury.

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