Simon de Pury talks personal taste

Simon de Pury is the chairman and chief auctioneer at Phillips de Pury & Company.

Simon de Pury at Phillips de Pury, London.
Simon de Pury at Phillips de Pury, London. | Image: richard grassie

My personal style signifier is this double-breasted suit. People think I have been wearing the same suit for 40 years. In fact, I go to A Caraceni in Milan and have the same suit remade. There’s very little variation – it can be grey or dark blue, with or without pinstripes. I refuse to change the measures, because when I can no longer get into my trousers I know I have to eat less. Via Fatebenefratelli 16, 20121 Milan(+3902-655 1972; www.a-caraceni.it).

The last thing I bought and loved was an untitled sculpture by Franz West. It’s a big head with an enormous nose. We’ve just installed it at home and it looks great. It’s really uplifting to live with. Art collecting is an addiction. We live with a fraction of what we have; most of it is in a warehouse. www.alminerech.com.

Colonia candle by Acqua di Parma, £35.
Colonia candle by Acqua di Parma, £35.

And the thing I’m eyeing next is work by the most interesting new artists. In terms of more established ones, I recently visited the LA studios of Mark Bradford, one of the great abstract artists of our time. His current paintings are better than anything he’s ever done. His work would be a dream to own, but it’s difficult to get your hands on. www.pinocchioisonfire.org.

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is [sets of] cartoon-character mugs in the shape of Donald Duck or Spider-Man or Superman. I have a substantial collection. I call it Airport Art because I used to buy them in airports. Now you can only find them on eBay, making it much less fun.

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The last item I added to my wardrobe is a padded Moncler gilet to brave the Siberian temperatures in continental Europe. From £375; 197 Sloane Street, London SW1 (020-7235 0857; www.moncler.com).

The best gift I’ve given recently is a hip-hop necklace, to my wife. Some of the most innovative things in jewellery have been done in the hip-hop arena. This is a necklace by Jacob & Co, and it’s a platinum microphone studded with stones on quite a heavy chain. www.jacobandco.com and see Pacha Jewellers, Sheraton Park Tower Hotel, 101 Knightsbridge, London SW1 (020-7235 8791; www.pachajewellers.com).

Untitled, 2004, by Franz West.
Untitled, 2004, by Franz West. | Image: courtesy Almine Rech Gallery.

A recent “find” is Year Zero in Soho, where they will paint your branded luxury articles. Give them your Vuitton case or Gucci bag and they will ask a great graffiti artist to personalise it for you. These pieces become completely fantastic objects. 37 Beak Street, London W1 (020-7734 7727; www.yearzerolondon.com).

The grooming staples I’m never without? There’s nothing. I’m so boring. I don’t use any fragrance or aftershave. It’s not out of principle, just that I’ve never wanted to. The only fragrance I use in the bathroom is Acqua di Parma, in candles. It’s fascinating to watch how these huge blocks burn down, the beautiful shapes they make. But that’s not exactly grooming. From £35; www.acquadiparma.com.

Bespoke diamond microphone pendant by Jacob & Co.
Bespoke diamond microphone pendant by Jacob & Co.

The last music I downloaded was Watch the Throne by Kanye West and Jay-Z. I must be iTunes’ best client – there’s not a day that passes when I am not downloading music. I have about 100,000 songs. I follow everything from rock, pop and hip-hop to dance music, jazz and movie soundtracks. I think that Kanye West is brilliant. He collaborates with great visual artists for his cover art: George Condo did his last album and before that it was Takashi Murakami. www.kanyewest.com.

The books on my bedside table are mostly art books. In fact, my bedside table is a tower of books. It’s very rare that I make it beyond the third or fourth page before falling asleep, so when I do succeed in reading a book right to the last page it has a major impact. I have the smaller version of Taschen’s Helmut Newton book, Sumo, which I love. I view Steve Jobs as a great artist so I have Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography, too. It’s embarrassing but the last fiction I read was The Debutante Divorcée by Plum Sykes. I read it to the end, largely because it had a lot of humour and was well observed.

Watch the Throne by Kanye West and Jay-Z.
Watch the Throne by Kanye West and Jay-Z.

My favourite websites are The Daily Beast – it’s an ideal way to get news updates if you’re busy; it’s done in an informative but fun way – and I also go to Artinfo to see what’s happening in the art world, including all the gossip. www.artinfo.com. www.thedailybeast.com.

The second part of this interview will be published on Thursday May 24.

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