DAVID BATHURST was small, sharp, fast, humorous - and, of course, well-born, writes Geraldine Norman. His combination of art-historical knowledge and shrewd business-sense made him look the ideal new leader for Christie's in the early 1980s; he was very good at selling Impressionists, which was where the money lay at the time, and he had made a hit as president of Christie's New York. American clients loved his 'class'.
He was about to take over as chairman of Christie's International when a furore over his 'lying to the press' forced his resignation from the firm in 1987. It was very hard luck. Up to that time auction houses had not been in the habit of telling the press when paintings were unsold; he became a pawn in a very involved court case brought by the art investment group Cristallina SA. In order to clear Christie's reputation, a resignation became necessary - and David did it like a gentleman.
He never complained about it to me or voiced a word of criticism of his colleagues. He went off to deal privately in Impressionist and modern pictures with a good grace - but not, perhaps, the old electricity he had poured into Christie's.
I have happy memories of cruising Manhattan bars into the early hours with David and a band of choice spirits to celebrate Christie's opening in New York; as it got later - or maybe it was earlier - his jokes became brighter and more penetrating. He liked art, he liked business - he was fun.