Friday, October 14, 2016

The man who bought the world

As we saw in microcosm in NZ with the Paris, Sang and Francis auctions, nothing attracts art collectors more than the flickering glow of a single collector sale. In part it’s the solid line of ownership and stamp of good taste, but it’s also very much the allure of an appealing story to go along with the work. The creation of those stories has now become a central part of the auction business. 

If you want to see the phenomenon at its peak, check out Sotheby’s gearing up to flog the David Bowie collection in early November. Bowie was no slouch in the art collecting game but you’d have to describe what he assembled as extremely personal. There are some big names and they’ll no doubt fetch the big prices but many of the works are moody and introspective which is not the usual look for auction stars. But Bowie as a personality trailing his fame and associations and emotion - what a gift! 

To promote Bowie the Collector Sotheby’s have gone overboard: moody trailers, evocative quotes from the man, slideshows of his art collector life, reminiscences from his personal art curator Beth Greenacre, lots of ‘icons’ and ‘revereds’ and ‘passions’ thrown around, and so on and so on. You can access the full catalogue here

Images: top left, curator Beth Greenacre and right, Marcel Duchamp’s A Bruit Secret estimate to sell for $311,000–432,000. Bottom, Bowie’s collection ready for sale.