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All That Glitters/Orlando Whitfield

This is an account of the friendship between two art dealers – Orlando Whitfield and Inigo Philbrook – who met at Goldsmiths College.

After an internship at the White Cube Gallery of mega-successful art dealer Jay Jopling, Inigo Philbrook made a fortune as a dealer in the secondary market.

He rose – and plummeted – like a meteor and eventually, in a sea of debt, did a runner to Vanuatu.

He pushed the ethical and legal envelope of art dealing to the limit and, by the end, was selling the same picture many times. Malpractice in an unregulated market, where 7 figure dollar deals are made on a text, and art works are ‘flipped’ in tax-free depots in Geneva were all prevalent and Philbrook was adept in exploiting them.

The author does not emerge as a particularly impressive or sympathetic character.

He is the son of an experienced executive who worked for Christie’s. Like many depressives, he is self-absorbed and clearly imagines that his mental problems are of as much interest to the reader as they are to himself.

Nonetheless he is well-qualified to describe the lifestyle of Philbrook: high end restaurants, jet-setting around the world, drugs and alcohol – as well as his capacity to make art deals and his ultimate collapse. Although the author does not have much good to say about the art world he does write well and for this reason and Inigo Philbeach it’s worth reading.

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About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts