Phillips de Pury Hopes to Sell the Hoard of Another Disgraced Collector

Phillips de Pury Hopes to Sell the Hoard of Another Disgraced Collector
As Sotheby's and Christie's stake out their blue-chip consignment territory in advance of the fall market season, second-string boutique Phillips de Pury seems to be working a burgeoning, if unglamorous, niche: helping disgraced financiers sell off their ill-gotten art. After bringing in more than $24 million this spring by auctioning the collection of debt-ridden Internet entrepreneur Hasley Minor, Phillips is now angling for the corporate art collection of the defunct law firm of Marc Dreier, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence for federal fraud after having attempted to sell $700 million bonus promissory notes to investors.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a bankruptcy official has filed for court approval for a November 21 Phillips auction of the modern and contemporary works Dreier amassed before his 2008 arrest. The 81-piece collection includes works by Damien Hirst, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, and Willem de Kooning, as well as photographs of the Dreier family and of Audrey Hepburn playing that other fiscally inept individual Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany’s."

A major Gagosian Gallery client, Dreier is known to have spent over $10 million for art in a single year. The bankruptcy estate of the former firm Dreier, LLP gained the rights to the art — which was confiscated after federal criminal charges were levied against Dreier — as a part of a deal that divided Dreier’s assets between the firm and his cheated clients, among whose ranks were such celebrities as Bill Cosby, Tim Burton, Justin Timberlake, rock group the Ramones, Elvis Costello, the New York Mets, and many others.

 

The proceeds from the auction will go to Dreier’s creditors. That is, if it is approved at the scheduled September 30 hearing, which will take place the day after Christie’s London hosts a round of gavel-pounding to auction off works in what was the Lehman Brothers corporate art collection, and five days after a Sotheby’s New York looks to sell hundreds of other pieces from the failed investment bank's artistic holdings.