This from Artfino, an internet site that tracks happenings in the art world…
“Mercury Group, Russia’s largest luxury retail company, will assume control of boutique auction house Phillips de Pury & Company, according to an agreement announced today. Under the terms of the deal, Simon de Pury will remain chairman and an important stakeholder in the company.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Mercury owns the TSUM department store in downtown Moscow, and the Barvikha Luxury Village in a Moscow suburb. Its shops sell brands such as Gucci, Prada, Giorgio Armani and Rolex. It also has showrooms for Ferrari, Maserati and Bentley cars. In October 2007, the Luxury Village hosted the first contemporary-art exhibition in Russia by Gagosian Gallery, the art world’s global leader in exhibition space.”
In a press release announcing the acquisition, de Pury said, “we have seen tremendous growth in the company over the last four years and this partnership with a major player in the luxury sector will allow us to provide a unique platform to new and fast growing markets.”
The implications are huge for the Hubert’s Archive, currently stranded at Phillips after they cancelled their auction last spring. Once Bob Langmuir, owner of the archive, irons out his difficulties with Bayo Ogunsanya (Ogunsanya, first purchaser of the archive, is suing Langmuir in hopes of securing a chunk of the so-far non-existent profits), Bob has got to come to some new arrangement with Phillips regarding the fate of the archive and their contractual obligations to him. Will he be negotiating with Simone de Pury or some Russian bean counter who’s never heard of Diane Arbus?
It’s possible the Mercury Group’s acquisition might work in Bob’s favor. A fresh cash infusion and new ownership could be a strong incentive for Phillips to clear up old business. The archive could be put up for auction once again, or simply wind up back in Bob’s lap. And there is another possibility - one which pleases me as much as the thought of the Hubert’s Archive being placed in the Metropolitan Museum.
Perhaps Phillips was telling the truth all along, and there really was a White Knight buyer for the Hubert’s Archive. Perhaps Mercury Group was the buyer, and Charlie and Diane will wind up at the Gagosian Gallery in Luxury Village just outside of Moscow, cheek by jowl with Gucci, Prada, Giorgio Armani and Rolex. Charlie and Woogie would probably dig it, though Diane would be appalled.
Talk about a “unique platform…”