Artwork Cindy Sherman, Untitled #125, 1983. Colour coupler print mounted on foamcore. Image 19 x 36 in (48.2 x 91 cm). Sheet 29¾ x 39½ in (75 x 100.5 cm). Edition of 18. Courtesy of the

I bought it at Christie’s

The pioneering gallerist David Gill on why he ‘had to jump’ for Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #125, 1983

‘The magic of an auction is that a work can sometimes be bought for a very good price. When that happens, you have to jump. At another time I might have chosen a different Sherman. But this one spoke to me, so it made sense to go for it.

Cindy Sherman (b. 1954) says that her photographs are not self-portraits, but most people do see them that way: portraits of the artist with a story attached. As for this one, it’s hard to tell what the persona is. A pirate or not a pirate? Friendly or unfriendly? 

‘I don’t know. Perhaps Sherman’s work is exposing the shallowness of personality, telling us that we are all part of a masquerade.

‘To be in the room is to tempt fate. You could find yourself up against someone you don’t get on with, which is not good’

‘I bought the picture over the phone. Leaving a bid is a recipe for regret: if you really want the piece, don’t set a limit in stone. 

‘To be in the room, on the other hand, is to tempt fate. You could find yourself up against someone you don’t get on with, which is not good. And if it is someone you like, that’s even worse. So I prefer not to know who is battling me; and as a telephone bidder I am anonymous.

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‘Every day I look at the works that I own. For me, contemplating art is next to music, a pleasure that takes place over time. I moved to this house quite recently, and am just beginning to hang things. 

‘I rather like the look of this piece above the mantelpiece. Even though the fireplace is too large for it, I think Cindy will live in this room.’