Philip Hook joined Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department as the senior specialist in 1994. Sotheby’s is the most prestigious Fine Art Auction House in the UK. He read History of Art at the University of Cambridge where he also won a soccer blue. In 1973 Philip joined Christie’s directly from University. He headed Christie’s 19th Century Paintings Department from 1980 to 1987. In between working at the two auction houses he founded a London art dealers, The St. James’s Art Group.
He has over 35 years of experience and expertise of the art market, he is the author of five successful novels set in the art world and his book Breakfast at Sotheby’s: An A-Z of The Art World was published by Penguin in November 2013. The latter discusses art’s value as an investment and its place in our society.
Philip has appeared regularly on The Antiques Roadshow (BBC) as a picture expert. He makes frequent public speaking appearances, covering a range of art-related subjects.
Philip’s latest book, Rogues’ Gallery: A History of Art and its Dealers (Feb 2017) exposes five centuries of history, scandals, big wins and horrifying losses in the international art world.
ROGUES’ GALLERY — Buy it here
Philip Hook takes the lid off the world of art dealing to reveal the brilliance, cunning, greed and daring of its practitioners. In a richly anecdotal narrative he describes the rise and occasional fall of the extraordinary men and women who over the centuries have made it their business to sell art to kings, merchants, nobles, entrepreneurs and museums.
From its beginnings in Antwerp, where paintings were sometimes sold by weight, to the rich hauteur of the contemporary gallery in London, Paris and New York, art dealing has been about identifying what is intangible but infinitely desirable, and then finding clients for whom it is irresistible. Those who have purveyed art for a living range from tailors, spies and the occasional anarchist to scholars, aristocrats, merchants and connoisseurs, each variously motivated by greed, belief in their own vision of art and its history, or simply the will to win.
The cast of characters includes Paul Durand-Ruel, the Impressionists’ champion; Herwath Walden, who first brought Modernism into the limelight; Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, high priest of Cubism; Leo Castelli, dealer-midwife to Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art; and Peter Wilson, the charismatic Sotheby’s chairman who made the auction room theatre.
Philip Hook’s history is one of human folly, greed and duplicity, interspersed with ingenuity, inspiration and acts of heroism. Rogues’ Gallery is learned, witty and irresistibly readable.
Hook…writes suavely and racily…has a fabulous ear for anecdotes…his entertaining book has a Wodehousian tone that makes even the most heinous act it describes glint with comedy’ – Sunday Times
Fascinating and elegantly written…both wise and timely – Guardian
Publisher: Profile Books
Publication date: 26 January 2017
BREAKFAST AT SOTHEBY’S — Buy it here.
Breakfast at Sotheby’s is a wry, intimate, truly revealing exploration of how art acquires its financial value, from Philip Hook, a senior director at Sotheby’s.
When you stand in front of a work of art in a museum or exhibition, the first two questions you normally ask yourself are 1) Do I like it? And 2) Who’s it by? When you stand in front of a work of art in an auction room or dealer’s gallery, you ask these two questions followed by others: how much is it worth? how much will it be worth in five or ten years’ time? and what will people think of me if they see it hanging on my wall?
Breakfast at Sotheby’s is a guide to how people reach answers to such questions, and how in the process art is given a financial value. Fascinating and highly subjective, built on thirty-five years’ experience of the art market, Philip Hook explores the artist and his hinterland (including -isms, middle-brow artists, Gericault and suicides), subject and style (from abstract art and banality through surrealism and war), “wall-power”, provenance and market weather, in which the trade of the art market is examined and at one point compared to the football transfer market. Comic, revealing, piquant, splendid and absurd, Breakfast at Sotheby’s is a book of pleasure and intelligent observation, as engaged with art as it is with the world that surrounds it.
“Reading it is like participating in a hugely enjoyable personal tutorial given by a cultured, witty, clear-eyed, world teacher with a fully functioning sense of humour. A real delight”. The Spectator
“Very funny and often touching, it teems with vivid observation and anecdotes about artists, paintings, nude models, dealers and critics. Hook also provides wonderful insights into The Antiques Roadshow, on which he appeared for 25 years, and the rivalry of Christie’s and Sotheby’s”. Jilly Cooper, Mail on Sunday
PUBLISHER: Particular Books (Penguin)
PUBLICATION DATE: 7th November 2013
AN INNOCENT EYE – Buy it here
A man is gunned down in an exclusive London hotel room. The killer’s abandoned jacket yields a single clue: a photograph of a landscape by Monet.
Only Daniel Stern knows the connection. His quest for justice for his family has led him on a bitter journey of discovery across Europe.
To Paris, and the revelation of his grandparents’ tragic story during the city’s wartime occupation.
To Rome – to Fr Alfonso Cambres, a worldly priest who has something weighing on his conscious.
To a house in the Swiss Alps, where the ultimate restitution must be made.
Stern’s task; to reconcile a series of conflicts between past and present, Jew and Catholic, guilt and innocence. But as he approaches his goal, he encounters a woman who presents him with one final terrible dilemma.
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
PUBLICATION DATE: October 2000
THE SOLDIER IN THE WHEATFIELD — Buy it here
Parnello Moran buys a German romantic landscape at an auction, but then it’s stolen from him. When he sets out to recover it he discovers all its recent owners met violent deaths. Gradually he uncovers a deeper past, and the biggest surprise of all – the secret of the soldier in the wheatfield.
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
PUBLICATION DATE: July 1998
Art dealer Oswald Ginn is sent a photograph of a 19th century masterpiece presumed destroyed in Dresden’s bombing. As rumours of the painting’s survival spread through the art world, three people are propelled on an international search. While someone sits back and watches.
PUBLISHER: Hodder & Stoughton
PUBLICATION DATE: September 1994
THE ULTIMATE TROPHY: HOW THE IMPRESSIONIST PAINTING CONQUERED THE WORLD