With the most powerful woman in the room, Lydia Fenet, Managing Director at Christie’s
LYDIA FENET IS A RAINMAKER. A COMMITTED PHILANTHROPIST, DEVOTED WIFE AND MOTHER, AS MANAGING DIRECTOR AT CHRISTIE’S AUCTION HOUSE, SHE CREATED AND HEADS THE STRATEGIC GLOBAL PARTNERSHIPS. SHE IS A FANATICALLY SOUGHT AFTER CHARITY AUCTIONEER AND HAS RAISED OVER HALF A BILLION DOLLARS FOR NON-PROFITS GLOBALLY. SHE RECENTLY ADDED TO HER MANY ACCOMPLISHMENTS WITH THE PUBLICATION OF A BOOK, THE MOST POWERFUL WOMAN IN THE ROOM…IS YOU, A BRILLIANT AND EMINENTLY READABLE GUIDE FOR WOMEN TO EMPOWER THEMSELVES AT THE NEGOTIATING TABLE AND IN LIFE.
THE LRFA BLOG HAD PLANNED TO POST LYDIA’S INTERVIEW DURING THE NEW YORK AUCTION MONTH IN MAY AND LOOKED FORWARD, WITH GREAT ANTICIPATION, TO THE SERIES. THEN WE WERE ALL QUARANTINED, LOCKED DOWN BY THE FRIGHTENING AND UNEXPECTED PANDEMIC: COVID-19. LYDIA FACED THIS WITH THE SAME FORTITUDE AND DETERMINATION THAT CHARACTERIZES HER ENTIRE LIFE. SHE STARTED A MARVELOUS INSTAGRAM IG LIVE SERIES TO BENEFIT A BELOVED CHARITY, THE RIVER FUND, INTERVIEWING OTHER ACCOMPLISHED WOMEN ABOUT THEIR BUSINESSES, HOW THEY ARE COPING WITH THE LOCKDOWN AND THEIR PLANS IN A POST-COVID WORLD.
MORE ON THAT TO FOLLOW, BUT HERE IS LYDIA’S APRIL 3 IG POST.
I can’t know the future. I can’t know if anything I do will change what happens tomorrow. What I do know is that if I do nothing, nothing will change. So I choose to try.
IT IS TRULY AN HONOR TO HAVE LYDIA FENET’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE LRFA BLOG.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP AND HOW DID YOU DEVELOP AN INTEREST IN ART?
I grew up in Louisiana, but we spent a lot of time in England/Europe because my mother is British. My parents took us to museums in all of the major cities whenever we were traveling, but I never remember being particularly interested in spending time looking at art. That all changed when I did a semester abroad at Oxford as part of a European Studies program through my college.
HOW DID YOU BECOME EXPOSED TO THE INTERNATIONAL ART SCENE AS A YOUNG WOMAN AND WHAT INFLUENCE DID THAT HAVE ON YOU?
I knew very little about about the international art scene before I read an article in a magazine about the auction world while it was in college. It all seemed incredibly glamorous and exciting, and decided that I needed to work in New York at an auction house. I spent months telling anyone who would listen that my life goal was to work at an auction house, and at a Christmas party later that year, I met a young woman who had just started working at Christie’s. She gave me the contact information for the internship coordinator, and I basically stalked her until she let me into the internship program.
WHEN DID YOU MOVE TO NEW YORK AND WHY?
I moved to New York right after I graduated to work in an internship at Christie’s.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO FOCUS ON ART AS A CAREER CHOICE? SO MANY OF US BEGAN AS TENTATIVE WANNABE ARTISTS AND MANAGED TO TRANSFORM A LOVE OF ART INTO A PRESENCE IN THE ART BUSINESS. WAS THAT TRUE IN YOUR CASE?
Not at all. I have zero artistic ability when it comes to visual art– it was the business side of the art world combined with working around the art that made the job so appealing.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?
I never had a “first” job – my entire career has been at Christie’s. I did two internships, worked briefly in Client Advisory and then was hired in Special Events where I spent my first ten years with the firm.
WHAT WERE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AT CHRISTIE’S AS A PART OF THEIR SPECIAL EVENTS DEPARTMENT? WERE THEY FOCUSED ON EVENTS IN NEW YORK, OR GLOBALLY, AND IF SO,WHERE?
When I worked in Special Events, I conceptualized, planned and executed over 500 events a year for Christie’s North and South America. When I first started in the role the events were mainly in New York and Los Angeles, but as the art market became more global I started traveling a ton. I went to Brazil five or six times in eighteen months to execute events when the Brazilian market began to take off. I absolutely loved it.
YOU HAVE BEEN WITH CHRISTIE’S IN DIFFERENT ROLES SINCE THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CAREER. WHAT IS IT ABOUT CHRISTIE’S THAT HAS CAPTURED YOUR ADMIRATION AND LOYALTY?
It is such an amazing company, and there is no doubt that working around world class art is a huge part of why it is such an incredible place to work. But truthfully, I think the people who I work with are a large part of the reason that I have been here so long. I really enjoy working with the global Christie’s team. Whereas most companies are working to promote or sell the newest, hottest item, at Christie’s we are entrusted with items that have belonged to families for, in some cases, generations, and there is a story that has to be told, and a legacy to be explained in every piece. The people who work for the firm are intellectually curious, and very intelligent. Even after people leave the auction world, they are always part of the auction family.
IN SO MANY WAYS, LYDIA TRANSFORMED WAYS IN WHICH CHRISTIE’S PARTNERED WITH CORPORATIONS, HARD HIT BY 2008. IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, SHE WILL SHARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF HER CAREER AND HER COMMITMENT TO A TRULY GREAT AND HONORABLE AUCTION HOUSE.
THANK YOU ALL FOR FOLLOWING THE BLOG!