Unsure if he’s the ‘old new boy or the new old boy’ at Phillip’s, the auction house’s new 20th-Century and Contemporary Art chief specialist Horwich says he has ‘slotted straight into the role’.
‘There’s a lot of very positive energy here,’ he says, which is high praise from a man who has over 25 years of experience in the auction world.
Is it any wonder to see him brimming with enthusiasm when his very first sale last June saw an Anselm Kiefer sell for a record price of over £2 million? His ‘great love’, 20th-century British painting, also triumphed, with the sale of a Barbara Hepworth for over £600,000.
The art market certainly is thriving, even if the economy isn’t. ‘Over the past 25 years, and the last ten in particular, independent of market conditions, interest rates or inflation, art continues to be a focus for people who have an intrinsic interest in collecting.’ It’s because ‘key pieces’ will never go out of fashion, he explains: ‘The best will always be the best and people are keen to compete if something is the best they can get.’
Horwich himself loves the School of London and the New Romantics, but if he could own one single painting, he would have The Merry-Go-Round by Mark Gertler. Sadly though, the Tate isn’t selling.