Tony Shafrazi and John Herring After Last Night’s Christie’s Sale

shafrazi Tony Shafrazi and John Herring After Last Nights Christies SaleAfter the sleepy Modern and Impressionist Art Sale last night at Christie’s, the gallerist Tony Shafrazi and John Herring stood outside and beamed at each other.

“Is this guy a living legend or not?” Mr. Herring said, pointing to his friend. “It’s not a question. That’s academic.”

Mr. Herring and his twin brother, Paul, work together as high-end art dealers, and are known for their discretion. According to a charming 1994 profile in the New York Times, they have one of the finest collections of drawings in the world. In Mr. Shafrazi’s view, the Herrings set themselves apart by doing things the old-fashioned way.

“They are different from every other dealer in the world,” he said. “Because where everyone is going towards computers and BlackBerries, every kind of possible thing, 40 galleries around the world like you-I-won’t-mention-who—they have their own mailing list.”

Mr. Herring and Mr. Shafrazi smiled. They resembled nothing so much as a pair of parrots, perched cheerfully on a tree as a nearby building burns.

“You know those 3 x 5 cards you used as a child?” he said. “We still use them.”

“They have a box, a wooden box, about this big,” Mr. Shafrazi went on.

“A shoebox!” Mr. Herring said.

“And they put 11 cards in there,” Mr. Shafrazi said, pausing for effect. “And those are the clients. But those clients—” He turned to Mr. Herring for permission to continue. “Can I say the number or I can’t say it?” he asked.

It turned out Mr. Herring didn’t mind discussing it. “These are 40-, 80-, 100-million-dollar people,” he said. “They have supported my lifestyle!”

According to Mr. Shafrazi, that lifestyle is on full display in the Herrings’ library, which he said is full of “hundreds and hundreds of great drawings, ” running from 1500 to 1950.

Mr. Shafrazi thought out loud about the library and made admiring faces.

“What if we do a show one day?” he said. “Just for me! I’ll put a little couch in there and I’d just enjoy them.”

Then he turned serious, and started talking about how such a show might actually work.

“You’d have to move the library in there too, because the library is really what kills—that’d be a great show, actually,” he said. Then: “Listen, I have an idea. I just had a brilliant idea. I mean, if money was not an object, like in a fantasy world: We could do a show but re-create the room with the furniture. We’d rebuild it with the same proportion and then have the drawings.”

He smiled broadly. “What a great thing that would be.”

A reporter interrupted to ask the gallerist what he thought of the auction. “It was a minor sale,” Mr. Shafrazi said. “Not a good sale at all. There were very few good things there. Whatever was good did very well.”