Leslie Rankow Fine Arts

INTERNATIONAL ART ADVISORY SERVICE

Timothy Macdonald, CEO of Timothy Macdonald Incorporated, today and tomorrow

TIMOTHY MACDONALD INCORPORATED
Artworks by Carmen Herrera and Jason Martin

MANY DESIGNERS HAVE AESTHETIC CRITERIA THAT EMBODY THEIR VISION OF DESIGN. ONE IMPORTANT 20th CENTURY INFLUENCE ON TIMOTHY MACDONALD WAS THE EXCEPTIONAL FRENCH MODERNIST DESIGNER AND FURNITURE MAKER, JEAN-MICHEL FRANK.

Jean-Michel Frank

Jean-Michel Frank was not a minimalist. This statement will shock admirers who view the most influential designer of the 1930s as the maître of understatement: walls of rye-straw marquetry, sofas of creamy glove leather, screens dressed in mica. But as enduring as those hallmarks remain, echoed by designers from Jacques Grange to the late Jed Johnson, Frank was surprisingly multidimensional.

To study Frank interiors published between 1928 and 1941—when the forty-six-year-old designer jumped from a Manhattan building, a refugee desolated by the Nazi occupation of France and a love affair gone awry—is to be amazed by his confectionary palette and catholic furnishings. “White was his favorite color,” says the designer’s niece, Alice, who recalls her uncle’s apartment at 7 rue de Verneuil as a suave composition of travertine, sanded oak, vellum and blanched leather. But the rooms of his clients embraced the glitter of Boulle as well as the glamour of the silver screen.

Axel Vervoordt

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO WELCOME BACK TIM MACDONALD. TIMOTHY MACDONALD INCORPORATED IS A LONG ESTABLISHED RESIDENTIAL DESIGN FIRM BASED IN NEW YORK THAT HAS REALIZED SUCCESSFUL PROJECTS IN AMERICA, SOUTH AMERICA AND EUROPE FOR A GENERATION OF CONTENTED CLIENTS WHOSE CHILDREN RETAIN HIS DESIGN SERVICES NOW AS WELL.

HIS PHILOSOPHY EMBRACES THE AESTHETICS OF THE DESIGNERS HE ADMIRES SUCH AS JEAN-MICHEL FRANK AND AXEL VERVOORDT AND OF THOSE WITH WHOM HE WORKED, ANGELO DONGHIA AND VAL ARNOLD. THE FIRM DOES NOT OFFER A  “MACDONALD LOOK” BUT RATHER REALIZES A PROJECT THAT BEST SERVES THE CLIENT AND ARCHITECT AND FULFILLS THE FIRM’S DEDICATION TO QUALITY.

TIMOTHY MACDONALD INCORPORATED
Artwork by Thomas Scheibitz, Ursula Von Rydingsvard, Dale Chihuly

 

TIM, WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIALS FOR RUNNING AN EFFICIENT FIRM? THERE ARE DESIGNERS WITH TALENT BUT WHO NEVER MEET A DEADLINE OR STAY WTIHIN A BUDGET. HOW DO YOU ALWAYS MANAGE TO DO BOTH?

When working out of town, or out of the country, a “team” becomes more important than ever. A good, professional general contractor is essential to keeping the project on track in terms of cost, time and quality. We rely on the contractor to identify the best local craftsmen and artisans. The architect is also a key player. Often the architect has already worked with the contractor or in the area, so they are always critical to a good result.

Recently, we have been doing an unusual amount of work out of town; in Florida (both coasts and in the middle), Arizona, Nassau and the Caribbean.

DO YOU HAVE A GENERAL CLIENT PROFILE? DO MOST OF YOUR CLIENTS COME FROM THE WORLDS OF REAL ESTATE, FINANCE, POLITICS?

Many of my early clients followed me from Donghia and today I would say most of my clients are from the world of finance. For several years, I have begun working for the children of my clients. In one case I finished a loft in Chelsea for a lovely young woman, who was so pleased with the results, she referred me to her parents who have engaged me to help with their country home and two apartments in New York City.

TIMOTHY MACDONALD INCORPORATED
Commissioned artwork by Teresita Fernandez

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PROJECTS THAT INCLUDE GREAT ART COLLECTIONS THAT CLIENTS BROUGHT WITH THEM?

Nearly all of my clients have an appreciation for art. It makes sense that if one is interested in interior design, they would be interested in how art fits into the completion of the interior design. Some clients arrive with little art and a thirst to learn and create a collection.

HOW DID YOU INTEGRATE THE ART INTO THE CONTEXT OF THE DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE? DID THE ART COME FIRST AND YOU CREATED A BEAUTIFUL BACKDROP OR VICE VERSA?

I am lucky to have several who already had assembled collections and we had the great pleasure of designing the interiors with an eye towards creating a suitable background for their art. We will sometimes print elevation drawings of each space with the art shown on the wall, in color and to scale. This is also very helpful when designing the appropriate lighting for an important collection.

TIMOTHY MACDONALD INCORPORATED
Tribeca Loft 
Photo by Hiroshi Sugimoto

WHO ARE SOME OF THE DESIGNERS OF THE PAST THAT YOU INSPIRE YOUR WORK THE MOST?

I have always had an affinity for the work of Jean Michel Frank. The simplicity of his furniture designs and interiors, together with the richness of the materials he used, informs much of the best contemporary furniture design. Today, someone who’s work I admire (and furniture I often use) is Christian Liagre. Axel Vervoordt is also a great inspiration.

HOW DO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY CHOOSE TO LIVE?

I have created some wonderful homes for me and my family. We had a grand 19th century apartment in the Osborn House apartment building in New York which was featured in Architectural Digest and a wonderful early 19th century bank barn country home in New Jersey. They were both extensive restorations; gratifying challenges with terrific results.

TIMOTHY MACDONALD INCORPORATED
Florida home

WHAT IS THE DREAM PROJECT THAT YOU HAVEN’T REALIZED YET?

I look forward to designing a house (not a restoration) for my wife and me, for our children and grandchildren to visit.

THANK YOU, TIM, FOR SHARING YOUR HISTORY, PRESENT AND FUTURE WITH THE LRFA BLOG. IT IS ALWAYS A SPECIAL TREAT TO SPEND TIME WITH YOU.

IN OUR NEXT LRFA POST, WE LOOK FORWARD TO INTRODUCING AMBER BERGER, ENTREPRENEUR, INFLUENCER, WELLNESS EXPERT, MOTHER OF TWO, AND YOUNG COLLECTOR.

PLEASE JOIN US!

New York, New York with interior designer, Timothy Macdonald

 

Tim Macdonald
Mary Tyler Moore’s Upstate NY house

THE SON OF A TAILOR, AT THE AGE OF 18 ANGELO DONGHIA LEFT VANDERGRIFT, PENNSYLVANIA FOR NEW YORK CITY TO STUDY INTERIOR DESIGN AT PARSONS SCHOOL OF DESIGN. UPON GRADUATION, HE JOINED THE DISTINGUISHED FIRM OF YALE BURGE INTERIORS. WITH BURGE AS A MENTOR HE HONED HIS CRAFT AND DEVELOPED A PERSONAL STYLE. IN 1966, ON THE RECOMMENDATION OF BILLY BALDWIN, MR. DONGHIA DESIGNED THE OPERA CLUB AT THE METROPOLITAN OPERA HOUSE AT LINCOLN CENTER WHICH, WITH SILVER FOIL CEILINGS, BLUE CHANDELIERS AND BLACK UPHOLSTERY, WAS MET WITH GREAT ACCLAIM. HE WAS SOON MADE PARTNER OF THE DESIGN FIRM, THEN RENAMED BURGE-DONGHIA.

WITH A PENCHANT FOR BUSINESS, MR. DONGHIA’S DIVERSE TALENTS WERE CONVEYED NOT ONLY IN THE WIDE RANGE OF INTERIORS HE DESIGNED BUT ALSO IN THE MANY PRODUCTS THAT CARRIED HIS NAME. SAID DONGHIA, “I KNEW THAT WHAT I HAD WASN’T ENOUGH AND THAT MY GROWTH HAD TO BE THROUGH MEANS WHICH WEREN’T THE DECORATING BUSINESS.”

DONGHIA’S DESIGN PHILOSOPHY, A LESS IS MORE APPROACH, EXTENDED TO ALL HIS PROJECTS. “HE STARTS WITH A CONCERN FOR LIVING,” STATED THE LATE GRACE MIRABELLA, BOTH A CLIENT AND EDITOR OF VOGUE. IN HIS INTERIORS HE CREATED TOTAL ENVIRONMENTS – NOT JUST ROOMS – ON THE TENET THAT “YOU SHOULD FEEL AT ALL TIMES THAT WHAT IS AROUND YOU IS ATTRACTIVE . . . AND THAT YOU ARE ATTRACTIVE.”

Angelo Donghia

ANGELO DONGHIA WAS AS INNOVATIVE IN BUSINESS AS IN DESIGN. HE WAS THE FIRST DESIGNER, TO MY KNOWLEDGE, WHO CREATED AND PRODUCED THE FURNISHINGS, THE FABRICS AND WALLCOVERINGS THAT HE INCORPORATED INTO HIS RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL DESIGNS.  HE OPENED DONGHIA SHOWROOMS THAT CONTINUE TODAY TO BE THRIVING ENTERPRISES IN DESIGN CENTERS IN A NUMBER OF AMERICAN CITIES.

https://www.donghia.com/angelo-donghia/

WHEN TIM ARRIVED IN NEW YORK, HIS FIRST (AND LAST) JOB WORKING FOR ANOTHER DESIGNER WAS WITH THE EXTRAORDINARY ANGELO DONGHIA.

TIM, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE! ONCE YOU MADE THE DECISION TO RELOCATE, WHAT IS THE ARCH OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL HISTORY?

Within a few weeks of arriving in New York, I interviewed with the legendary designer Angelo Donghia. I had followed and admired his work for years as it appeared in all the design magazines. Angelo’s design philosophy encompassed a broad range of styles. A Fifth Avenue townhouse would of course have a very different aesthetic than a Key West, cypress wood octagonal house. He loved 18th century English wood furniture as well as classic art deco rattan and wicker pieces. But most of all, he was a master of upholstery. He demanded that all upholstered furniture be beautiful and, above all, comfortable.

Within a couple of years, Angelo had put me in charge of his residential design firm, where I managed a staff of ten and worked with all the top clients. We had a who’s who of clients at the time: Diana Ross, Mary Tyler Moore, Ralph Lauren, Barbara Walters, Neil Simon, Donald Trump and in 1980, I had my first big client on my own, Liza Minnelli. The results were presented as the first fold out cover of Architectural Digest and the biggest selling issue to that time.

Ralph Lauren apartment, New York

EVERYONE LOVES AN INSIDER’S VIEW INTO THE WORLD OF CELEBRITIES. WHO WERE SOME OF YOUR CELEBRITY CLIENTS AND IN WHAT WAYS IS IT THE SAME AND IN WHAT WAYS IS IT DIFFERENT THAN WORKING ON A REGULAR PROJECT?

For a number of years Architectural Digest sponsored guest programs at The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Together with a few other designers, I was invited to present a slide talk on what it is like working for celebrities. Bottom line, they are no different than other clients. Every client is unique and each brings their own point of view. Ralph Lauren wanted an environment which was devoid of color and pattern, other than natural wood, velvet carpeting the color of natural wood and lush green plants. We wanted to give him a place of visual serenity after hours of looking at color and pattern.

Liza Minnelli, growing up in Hollywood, the daughter of a film director, thought of home as a movie set and wanted her apartment to include references from her father’s films, such as the distinctive “Minnelli” red in Gigi. We had a ball working together.

Liza Minelli
New York apartment
by Timothy Macdonald Incorporated

WHEN DID YOU LAUNCH TIMOTHY MACDONALD INCORPORATED AND WHAT PROMPTED THAT DECISION?

In 1986, Angelo Donghia passed away and I left Donghia to start my own firm. I remember the day I met with his lawyers and realized I needed to leave. I went home and told my wife, “I have some news.” She said, “So do I.” I said, “You first.” She said, “I‘m pregnant.” I said, “I’m unemployed.” So Timothy Macdonald Incorporated was launched. Within a month I started with a secretary, a typewriter, a draftsman/designer and a phone number.

For the past several years, TMI consists of myself, my business partner, Robin Berg, my design partner, Greg Kundsen, an assistant designer, an administrative assistant and a draftsman.

OFF TO AN AMAZING START, WITH THE IN-DEPTH EXPERIENCE OF REALIZING FIRST-TIER PROJECTS AND DISCERNING CLIENTS, TIMOTHY MACDONALD INCORPORATED LAUNCHED.

TUNE IN NEXT WEEK AS TIM SHARES HIS LIFE AS CEO AND PRESIDENT OF ONE OF THE MOST ESTABLISHED AND ON-GOING NEW YORK BASED INTERIOR DESIGN FIRMS.

A warm welcome to Timothy Macdonald Incorporated, a New York based design firm

Tim Macdonald
Founder & President
Timothy Macdonald Incorporated

TIMOTHY MACDONALD INCORPORATED IN A LONG-ESTABLISHED INTERIOR DESIGN FIRM BASED IN NEW YORK WITH PROJECTS THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES, LATIN AMERICA, AND EUROPE. THE STYLE IS ECLECTIC, RESPONDING TO EACH INDIVIDUAL CLIENTS’ AESTHETIC AND LIFESTYLE. HIS DIALOGUE WITH THE ARCHITECT AND THE CLIENT IS ALWAYS COLLABORATIVE AND ONE OF HIS PRIORITIES IS TO HONOR THE CLIENTS’ TIME FRAME AND BUDGET.

TIM MACDONALD HAS BEEN A COLLEAGUE AND A FRIEND FOR MANY YEARS AS HE HAS GENEROUSLY REFERRED CLIENTS TO ME WHO ARE INTERESTED IN ACQUIRING ART OR ALREADY HAVE ESTABLISHED COLLECTIONS THAT NEED FINE TUNING. HE STUDIED FINE ARTS IN COLLEGE EXTENSIVELY AND HAS A GENUINE RESPECT FOR ART AND ITS VALUED PLACE IN THE CONTEXT OF A RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL DESIGN.

IT IS A PLEASURE AND A PRIVILEGE TO HAVE TIM CONTRIBUTE TO THE LRFA BLOG.

Taliesin
(Spring Green, Wisconsin)

Leslie, thank you so much for inviting me.

THANK YOU, TIM. I KNOW YOU GREW UP IN THE MIDWEST.

WHAT ELEMENTS OF YOUR CHILDHOOD AND EARLY ADULTHOOD LED YOU INTO ESTABLISHING A DESIGN FIRM IN NY?

I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and my early interest in architecture was encouraged by my mother. Frank Lloyd Wright had a strong presence in the area and his buildings certainly affected the way I experienced design and space. In fact, I nearly went to his school in Spring Green, Wisconsin, interviewing with his widow, Olgivanna.

Frank Lloyd Wright
Fallingwater

I attended high school in Winnetka, Illinois where I was able to study art under Jon Almquist, who had studied with Joseph Albers at Yale. I flourished. Visits to the Art Institute were frequent and my interest in art was encouraged both at home and in school.

Ultimately, I attended the University of Pennsylvania, with the intention of studying architecture. But, greatly missing the art studio and drawing, painting, sculpture and photography; I transferred to The Boston Museum School to study art.

AND AFTER SCHOOL, WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE DESIGN WORLD?

After college, I moved to San Francisco in the summer of 1972. I realized with my education in art, I could either be a fine artist, or teach art. Neither appealed to me, so I considered how I might apply my knowledge to a practical career. A friend worked for a large space planning firm in San Francisco and encouraged me to explore the field of interior design. It seemed a good way to marry my love of architecture with my education in art.

I got my hair cut and put on a sport coat (I was a hippie at the time) and started the job interview process. I visited decorating showrooms and got an offer the first day. But what I really wanted to do was work for a designer and learn the business from the bottom up. I was lucky to land an interview with one of the top interior designers in San Francisco, Val Arnold.

Val Arnold
Architectural Digest, 2007

TELL US ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE AT VAL ARNOLD. YOU MUST HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH!

Val had a small office; two designers, one assistant designer and an office manager/bookkeeper. I was hired to be Val’s assistant and my job consisted of doing anything to help around the office. This might be organizing the sample room, shopping for materials, or getting the car washed before a client site meeting. The office manager left for a trip to China shortly after my arrival and after she was gone two weeks, she wired Val she would not be returning. So I became office manager. That was the beginning of my education in the business side of design. In short order I was also helping to create furniture plans and elevations, pull together schemes and even present to clients. I helped out on special photo shoots for Architectural Digest. It was total immersion. I loved it and I was good at it. Our clients were movie stars and the crème de la crème of San Francisco society.

Val was very good to me and begged me to stay with him, but in 1975 he decided to relocate to Los Angeles and I decided to move to New York.

Angelo Donghia
Architectural Digest, 2007

AND SO TIM’S PRESENCE IN THE INTERIOR DESIGN WORLD IN THE COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE OF NEW YORK WAS LAUNCHED WITH THE LEGENDARY FIRM OF ANGELO DONGHIA.  STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOR THE DETAILS!

THANKS SO MUCH FOR FOLLOWING THE LRFA BLOG, AND THANK YOU SO MUCH, CONTRIBUTORS, FOR YOUR LABOR-INTENSIVE SUPPORT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The future at Sotheby’s

AS  A SURPRISING CODA TO THE EXCEPTIONALLY INFORMATIVE INTERVIEW WITH COURTNEY KREMERS, SENIOR VP AND CONTEMPORARY ART SPECIALIST AT SOTHEBY’S, THIS NEWS HAS SET THE ART WORLD ABUZZ IN THE LAST FEW DAYS.  SOTHEBY’S HAS DECIDED TO ACCEPT AN OFFER BY FRENCH TELECOM AND MEDIA BILLIONAIRE PATRICK DRAHI AND WILL FORMALLY BE A PRIVATELY HELD COMPANY, AS ARE CHRISTIE’S AND PHILLIPS, IN THE NEAR FUTURE. THAT WILL CERTAINLY DISRUPT THE LANDSCAPE OF THE HIGHLY COMPETITIVE AUCTION WORLD!

IN THEIR OWN WORDS…

SOTHEBY’S PRESS RELEASE JUNE 17, 2019

Sotheby’s (NYSE: BID) today announced that it has signed a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by BidFair USA, an entity wholly owned by media and telecom entrepreneur as well as art collector, Patrick Drahi. Under the terms of the agreement, which was approved by Sotheby’s Board of Directors, shareholders, including employee shareholders, will receive $57.00 in cash per share of Sotheby’s common stock in a transaction with an enterprise value of $3.7 billion. The offer price represents a premium of 61% to Sotheby’s closing price on June 14, 2019, and a 56.3% premium to the company’s 30 trading-day volume weighted average share price. The transaction would result in Sotheby’s returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Tad Smith, Sotheby’s CEO, said, “Patrick Drahi is one of the most well-regarded entrepreneurs in the world, and on behalf of everyone at Sotheby’s, I want to welcome him to the family. Known for his commitment to innovation and ingenuity, Patrick founded and leads some of the most successful telecommunications, media and digital companies in the world. He has a long-term view and shares our brand vision for great client service and employing innovation to enhance the value of the company for clients and employees. This acquisition will provide Sotheby’s with the opportunity to accelerate the successful program of growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment. It positions us very well for our future and I strongly believe that the company will be in excellent hands for decades to come with Patrick as our owner.”

Domenico De Sole, Chairman of Sotheby’s Board of Directors, said, “Following a comprehensive review, the Board enthusiastically supports Mr. Drahi’s offer, which delivers a significant premium to market for our shareholders. After more than 30 years as a public company, the time is right for Sotheby’s to return to private ownership to continue on a path of growth and success.” 2 “I am honored that the Board of Sotheby’s has decided to recommend my offer,” commented Patrick Drahi. “Sotheby’s is one of the most elegant and aspirational brands in the world. As a longtime client and lifetime admirer of the company, I am acquiring Sotheby’s together with my family. We thank Domenico and the rest of the Sotheby’s Board for its support and look forward to getting started with Tad and the wonderful members of his team to define our future.”

The closing of the deal is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory clearance and shareholder approvals, but is not subject to the availability of financing. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019 following shareholder approval.

FROM THE OFFICE OF PATRICK DRAHI

PRESS RELEASE ACQUISITION OF SOTHEBY’S JUNE 17, 2019

I am very honored that the Board of Sotheby’s has decided to recommend my offer.

With my family, we are very enthusiastic to build together with its current management
and their teams the future of Sotheby’s, a fascinating and multi-secular company with such a celebrated history of uniting people all over the world through culture and arts.

For my entire life, I have been passionate about this industry and I believe the opportunities and growth potential are significant for Sotheby’s.

I am making this investment for my family, through my personal holding, with a very long-term perspective. There is no capital link with Altice Europe or Altice USA.

As the future owner, I have full confidence in Sotheby’s management, and hence do not anticipate any change to the Company’s strategy. Management and their exceptional teams and talent around the world will continue to operate with my full support.

This investment will further demonstrate the anchoring of my family in the United States, a country where we have been very welcomed since the successful acquisitions of Suddenlink in 2015, Cablevision in 2016 and just recently Cheddar.

The telecom and media industries will keep being my main focus where I remain 100% committed to our businesses and to our continued growth. I will of course keep leading the management team in the development and growth of Altice Europe, as well as remain Chairman of the Board of Altice USA to support Dexter and his team who are doing a great job.

The acquisition of Sotheby’s will be funded by financings arranged and underwritten by BNP Paribas as well as by equity provided from my own funds. To help fund this transaction, I do not intend to sell any shares in Altice Europe NV; my intention is to monetize a small position in Altice USA up to $400 million by the end of the year. Due to Altice USA’s share repurchase program, the total economic stake of my holdings in Altice USA has increased over the last 12 months from approximately 34% to 38 %.

Sotheby’s now and ahead with Senior VP and Contemporary Specialist, Courtney Kremers

Sotheby’s New York

In 2015, Tad Smith was appointed to head Sotheby’s. Prior to that, Mr. Smith had spent a year as chief executive of the Madison Square Garden Company, which, among other businesses, owns the New York Knicks basketball team, the New York Rangers hockey team and Radio City Music Hall. Before that, he spent five years at Cablevision Systems, which like MSG is controlled by the family of Charles Dolan.

In an interview, Mr. Smith said he could not add to the expertise of Sotheby’s art experts, but he could act as a business catalyst. “The market for art is very large, it is global and there is an immense amount of new wealth being created every year,” he said. Sotheby’s said it was also splitting the jobs of chief executive and chairman of the board, both of which had been held by Mr. Ruprecht. Domenico De Sole, former chief executive of the Gucci Group and chairman of the luxury retailer Tom Ford International, who is currently Sotheby’s lead independent director, became its new chairman.

Tad Smith
President and CEO
Sotheby’s

In January 2016, Schwartzman and Cappellazzo joined Sotheby’s as Chairmen and Co-Heads of its newly formed Fine Art Division and the traditional structure of the auction house radically changed in an effort to adapt to an industry in flux.

https://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2019/by-women-for-tomorrows-women-n10041.html

A recent auction was just one way in which Sotheby’s reflects and responds to the social and political issues of our times: an art exhibit and auction hosted by Sotheby’s and Miss Porter’s School called “By Women, for Tomorrow’s Women.” The event was the first all-women-artist benefit held at a major auction house.

Carmen Herrera
Sotheby’s By Women, For Tomorrow’s Women auction

Sotheby’s has taken a major leap into the 21st Century with its acquisition of Thread Genius, an AI-based recommendation platform, and Viyet, a high-end furniture design consignment platform focused on an emerging generation of antique and high-end interior design enthusiasts, just two of its recent corporate acquisitions since Mr. Smith took charge.

Viyet at Sotheby’s

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO CONTINUE ITS CONVERSATION WITH COURTNEY KREMERS, SENIOR VP AND CONTEMPORY ART SPECIALIST AT SOTHEBY’S.

COURTNEY, WELCOME BACK.

IN 2015, TAD SMITH WAS APPOINTED PRESIDENT AND CEO OF SOTHEBY’S. SOTHEBY’S HAS BEEN RESTRUCTURED AND TRANSFORMED, ACQUIRING SEVERAL BUSINESSES THAT EXPAND OUR IDEA OF THE ROLE OF AN AUCTION HOUSE.  HOW HAS SOTHEBY’S GROWN AND CHANGED SINCE HIS APPOINTMENT?

We have changed a lot in the last few years, and that change has been exciting. We are adapting to a more global market and one that increasingly operates on digital platforms and outside the traditional auction seasons. Our business has become a 360 degree endeavor – and we are investing as much in new collectors, across all categories, as we are in those bidding in the blockbuster evening sales.  

Sotheby’s BIDnow
Live Online Bidding

SOTHEBY’S IS, UNLIKE CHRISTIE’S OR PHILLIPS, A PUBLICLY HELD COMPANY. HOW DOES THAT AFFECT ITS BUSINESS DECISIONS AND POLICIES?

As a public company, Sotheby’s has to maintain the highest standards of transparency and accountability. In a business that has a reputation for not always being those things, this distinction sets us apart. Trust is an advantage. 

Sotheby’s London

WITH A SOFTENING ART MARKET, POLITICAL UNCERTAINTY, A HIGHLY VOLATILE STOCK MARKET AND A SLOWDOWN OF GLOBAL GROWTH IN GENERAL, HOW IS THE ART MARKET AFFECTED BOTH SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM?

The art market isn’t immune to the global financial markets and political turmoil. But it is remarkably more resilient and less volatile than it was 12 years ago; it is a much more global market. I was in London in June 2017, when we held our Contemporary Sales only a few days after the Brexit vote. We had no idea what would happen, but we didn’t think it would be good. Contrary to expectations, any slack in UK bidding was far outweighed by the enthusiastic paddle raising from US and Asian collectors saw an opportunity because of currency fluctuations. The auctions were likely stronger than they would have been with no-Brexit. 

Sotheby’s Hong Kong

WHAT ARE YOUR IMMEDIATE PLANS AND FUTURE PROFESSIONAL AMBITIONS?

If I am doing exactly what I am doing now, in 20 years, I would consider myself lucky. I love my job, the artworks, the collectors I work with, and the team of people I work with. If it sounds unambitious to hope for more of the same, then so be it. 

IT DOESN’T SOUND UNAMBITIOUS AT ALL- BUT THE LRFA BLOG IS CERTAIN THAT IN MUCH LESS THAN 20 YEARS, YOU WILL HAVE RISEN HIGH IN THE RANKS AT SOTHEBY’S OR ANY OTHER ENDEAVOR YOU PURSUE. COURTNEY, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR INSIGHTFUL CONTRIBUTION.

Sotheby’s Paris

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, WE WELCOME TIMOTHY MACDONALD, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF TIMOTHY MACDONALD INCORPORATED, A NEW YORK BASED INTERIOR DESIGN FIRM. TIM HAS BEEN A LONG TIME COLLEAGUE, FRIEND AND SOURCE OF CLIENT REFERRAL AND WE WILL LEARN ABOUT THE MANY PROJECTS HE HAS OVERSEEN, BOTH HERE AND ABROAD AND HIS LOVE OF ART AND DESIGN.

PLEASE JOIN US!

Life in a jewel box with Courtney Kremers, Sotheby’s VP and Contemporary Art Specialist

The History of Now: The Collection of Daniel Teiger
Sotheby’s London

THE COLLECTION OF DAVID TEIGER, A MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT AND FORMER TRUSTEE OF THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, WAS SOLD AT SOTHEBY’S STARTING IN LONDON LAST OCTOBER DURING FRIEZE WEEK. THE COMPETITION BETWEEN THE AUCTION HOUSES VYING FOR SUCH A SUPERB, VARIED AND LEGENDARY COLLECTION MUST HAVE BEEN FIERCE BUT SOTHEBY’S MARKETING STRATEGY WON THE DAY. TITLED “THE HISTORY OF NOW”, THE COLLECTION FEATURED EXCEPTIONAL EXAMPLES OF MODERN, FOLK AND CONTEMPORARY ART, FEATURING EXCEPTIONAL EXAMPLES BY SUCH ARTISTS AS JASPER JOHNS, DAVID HOCKNEY, JOHN CURRIN, PETER DOIG AND MARK GROTJAHN IN A SERIES OF TEN TARGETED SALES WORLDWIDE.

Mark Grotjahn
The History of Now- The Collection of David Teiger

DAVID TEIGER CREATED A LIST OF PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE HIM IN HIS COLLECTING. SOTHEBY’S ADVOCATED THE SAME FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION IN ITS MARKETING AND SELLING OF IT: TRAVELING WORKS TO MANY CITIES, THREE IN ASIA ALONE; RESEARCHING, DOCUMENTING AND CATALOGUING EACH LOT; SELECTING THE VENUE THAT WOULD BEST SERVE EACH WORK OF ART, RESULTING IN AN OVERALL TOTAL OF MORE THAN $100 MILLION.

http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2018/history-of-now-collection-david-teiger-l18623.html

Peter Doig
Buffalo Station 1
The History of Now- The Collection of David Teiger sale

THE HARD WORK, DEDICATION AND KNOWLEDGE OF WORKS  OF ART AND OF THE ART MARKET REQUIRED FOR THE SALE OF THE TEIGER COLLECTION IS JUST ONE EXAMPLE OF THE VIRTUALLY DAILY DEMANDS ON SPECIALISTS IN A TOP AUCTION HOUSE. CONSISTENTLY PLEASANT, CHEERFUL AND POLITE TO EACH AND EVERY DEMANDING COLLECTOR AND ADVISOR IS ANOTHER REQUISITE.

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO WELCOME BACK COURTNEY KREMERS, SENIOR VP AND CONTEMPORARY ART SPECIALIST, TO SPEAK FIRST HAND OF HER SOTHEBY EXPERIENCE.

WHEN DID YOU START AT SOTHEBY’S AND WHAT PROMPTED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN AN AUCTION HOUSE?  CUSTOMARILY, MANY PEOPLE START AT AN AUCTION HOUSE AND THEN GO ON TO WORK AS A DEALER OR ADVISOR?

Yes I did it backwards. But I am so thankful I did. I was able to understand the ecosystem that the auction house serves by first being a part of that ecosystem. Sotheby’s approached me about an opportunity to revamp their mid season sales in early 2013; that fall, we introduced the Contemporary Curated sales. It was an exciting new challenge, and when I left Kim to pursue it, she couldn’t have been more supportive.

Vija Celmins
Burning Plane
Good to Go: Property from the Collection of Joni Gordon

WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT WORKING IN AN AUCTION HOUSE?

I am surrounded every day by people that love what they do. My colleagues, both in and outside the Contemporary department, are some of the most passionate, inspiring, and hard-working people that I have ever encountered. The energy is contagious. Not to mention the thousands of objects I get to see, handle, basically live with, every year. And not just Contemporary works… Our office is a rotating museum of Old Master paintings, jewels, photographs, Japanese scrolls, the most beautiful mid-century design objects. I spend most of my waking life in a jewel box essentially. It is a privilege to work at Sotheby’s, so I try to earn it every day. 

Ed Ruscha Broken Pencil In Its Own Light: Collection of Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MAJOR AUCTIONS OR SINGLE OWNER SALES OR SPECIFIC LOTS THAT STAND OUT AS HIGHLIGHTS DURING YOUR TIME AT SOTHEBY’S?

The Joni Gordon Sale in 2014 – we sold a rare Vija Celmin’s plane painting (now on view in the SFMoMA show) and achieved a record price for the artist. In 2017, the sale of works from the Collection of Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw which included the most breathtaking works on paper by Anselm Kiefer, Michael Andrews, and Brice Marden… These weren’t the most high value consignments, or the biggest single owner sales in recent years, but the works were rare connoisseurs’ gems.   

Cecily Brown
Bonus
In Its Own Light: The Collection of Ed Cohen and Victoria Shaw

HOW DOES S/2, SOTHEBY’S GALLERY, WORK IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE SALES DEPARTMENT?  HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT THE BEST VENUE WHEN ADVISING A CLIENT INTERESTED IN SELLING A WORK THEY OWN?

Simply stated, when advising collectors regarding auction versus private sale, we need to understand what it is that they value most. For some, privacy and control of the sale process is paramount, and so private sale would be our recommendation. For others, the auction platform, which can present a unique opportunity for upside at a particular moment, is more appealing. With that said, every conversation is highly circumstantial and takes into account any number of factors. One that comes up frequently is depth of an artist’s market in relation to works currently consigned for an auction season (e.g. if we have four Calder mobiles already consigned for auction, we are likely not going to recommend adding a fifth).

Alexander Calder
Art Contemporain
Sotheby’s Paris, June 5, 2019

HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO YOU WORK ON A FORTHCOMING AUCTION?  DO YOU HAVE A FEW LOTS THAT COME IN THAT ANCHOR A SALE AND THEN SEEK OUT WORKS COLLECTORS MIGHT HAVE THAT WOULD COMPLEMENT THE SALE AND BE ENHANCED BY EXISTING LOTS?

Yes – you nailed it. We generally work on sales six months in advance, but naturally the intensity ramps up about two months out. Roughly half of the sale comes in from collectors who reach out to us directly. The other half we seek out proactively. Based on what has come into the sale in the first few months, we seek out artists and periods that we don’t yet have. We start to create ‘wish lists’ that we work from. If we are a month away from deadline and see that we don’t have a great Joan Mitchell or Donald Judd, we will go out and try to find one. Our wish list changes a bit every season depending on what we know collectors are looking for, and also, opportunities we may see to tell a particular story in an auction season. We look at the ingredients on the table, and then figure out how to make a well balanced meal! 

Joan Mitchell
L’Arbre de Phyllis
Lumieres: The Levy Family Collection
Sotheby’s NY May 16, 2019

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, COURTNEY WILL SHARE HER PERSPECTIVE ON SOTHEBY’S PRESENT AND FUTURE.

PLEASE JOIN US!

AND HAVE A HAPPY AND LONG-AWAITED MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!

Collecting advice from an expert: Sotheby’s contemporary auction specialist Courtney Kremers

Courtney Kremers
Sotheby’s

AUCTIONS ARE BIG BUSINESS WITH EVER INCREASING INTEREST AND PARTICIPATION FROM ALL CORNERS OF THE WORLD. THANKS TO THE GLOBALIZATION OF THE ART MARKET AND THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF ART BOOSTED BY INSTAGRAM IN PARTICULAR AND SOCIAL MEDIA IN GENERAL, AND BY THE HEADLINE MAKING SUMS THAT ARE BEING REALIZED, EVERYONE FINDS THIS AN INTRIGUING SUBJECT TO FOLLOW WHETHER THEY ARE COLLECTORS OR NOT. THE COMPETITION BETWEEN HOUSES IS FIERCE AND THIS WEEK, IN NEW YORK, PRESENTS MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO PROVE THESE POINTS.

Claude Monet
Meules
Sotheby’s May 2019

ON TUESDAY OF THIS WEEK, SOTHEBY’S TRIUMPHED, OPENING THE NEW YORK AUCTION WEEK, WITH THEIR IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN SALE. ARTnews DESCRIBES IT AS SUCH:

Powered by a stunning Claude Monet landscape that doubled its estimate and elicited hearty applause in the grand salesroom, Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern evening sale in New York on Tuesday galloped to a market-affirming $349.9 million tally.

Only five of the 55 lots offered failed to sell, yielding a svelte buy-in rate by lot of 9.1 percent.

The buoyant result surged past pre-sale expectations of $252.6 million to $333.2 million. Those estimates do not include the buyer’s premium. (The hammer tally for the evening, before fees, was $300.5 million.)

The total also shot past last May’s $318.3 million result for the 32 lots that sold. The top lot at that sale was Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché (sur le côté gauche), 1917, which fetched $157.2 million, making it the most expensive work ever to sell at Sotheby’s.

Tuesday’s auction ranks as the highest-earning Impression-modern evening sale at Sotheby’s since one in May 2015 that took in $368 million.

http://www.artnews.com/2019/05/15/sothebys-imp-mod-monet-meules-record/

Hans Hofmann

BEFORE WORKS CAN REACH THE DAZZLING HEIGHTS OF THE AUCTION WORLD, THEY MUST FIRST BE ACQUIRED BY PRIVATE COLLECTORS AND THAT TAKES CAREFUL DELIBERATION, INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE AS WELL AS THE GOOD FORTUNE OF A GREAT EYE AND/OR A GREAT ADVISOR.

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO HAVE SOTHEBY’S SPECIALIST, SENIOR VP, COURTNEY KREMERS, TO SHARE HER ASTUTE INSIGHTS ON THE ART OF COLLECTING.

COURTNEY, WELCOME BACK! THE LRFA BLOG IS VERY HAPPY TO HAVE YOU HERE.

SOME COLLECTORS, SUCH AS THE MUGRABIS,  FOCUS ON A HANDFUL OF ARTISTS, BUYING NUMEROUS EXAMPLES OF WORK FROM ALL PERIODS OF THE ARTIST’S CAREER, THUS CONTROLLING TO SOME EXTENT THE MARKET FOR THE WORK?

WHAT IN YOUR OPINION ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND THE DISADVANTAGES?

There is a big difference between trying to control an artist’s market, by acquiring a significant number of works, and collecting an artist in depth. The pros/cons of this strategy are no different than having undiversified risk in any other asset class. It is high risk, high reward.

Lucio Fontana

WHEN YOU ARE WORKING WITH A RELATIVELY NEW AND UNSEASONED COLLECTOR, WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE THAT YOU CAN GIVE THEM?

Collecting involves a careful balance of restraint and gut. At the beginning, the formula should be weighted toward restraint and research, but as you develop a real eye, gut becomes a crucial part of the equation.

HOW DO YOU EDUCATE THE POTENTIAL COLLECTOR IN THE ART OF COLLECTING? WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY CRITERIA AND GUIDELINES DO YOU GIVE THEM?

It isn’t only about buying what you love. For an unseasoned collector, that advice can be a recipe for disaster, or at the very least, for overpaying. The word, “love”, is also confusing to collectors, because what does that mean when it comes to art? Your relationship with an object can grow from something that first would be described as discomfort, because it gets under your skin, stays with you, challenges something you thought you knew. In other words, the reaction to a great object doesn’t always start out as positive experience in a traditional sense, but it can evolve into that. Aside from the gut reaction you feel, which is what makes collecting so emotionally rewarding, you should always ask questions and understand what you are buying, how the work fits into the artist’s overall body of work, what the condition is, which galleries support the artist, which museums have shown the artist, etc. The list of questions is long and you should consider the answers to each one.

Sam Francis

YOU WORKED FOR KIM HIERSTON, WHOM I LIKE AND ADMIRE, IN HER ART ADVISORY FIRM.  WHAT WERE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?

Tons of research, among other things. Kim is extremely thorough and disciplined about every artwork she puts forward for a collector’s consideration. It was an information gathering operation first, art advisory second; you can’t advise unless you have all the facts. We spent a lot of time reviewing the artworks on offer through galleries, at art fairs, and in the auctions, and then thinking about how those works might fit into a particular client’s collection, and if so, what the right price was. Once an acquisition was made, we handled all the back end logistics that come with building an art collection – insurance, shipping, framing, conservation. It was a soup to nuts job.

George Condo

WHAT WERE THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS YOU LEARNED WHEN WORKING AS AN ADVISOR?  YOU MUST INTERACT WITH A GREAT MANY ADVISORS NOW, AS A SPECIALIST AT SOTHEBY’S. WHAT CHARACTERIZES THE BEST AND THE WORST OF THEM?

There are advisors who do their own research and who spend a considerable amount of time looking at art and understanding the objects, and then there are advisors who just repeat what they hear elsewhere. The parrots are just that, parrots.

NB- THE WORKS ILLUSTRATED IN THIS BLOG (EXCEPT THE MONET) ARE FORTHCOMING LOTS IN THE SOTHEBY’S CONTEMPORARY DAY SALE, ON FRIDAY, MAY 17th.

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, COURTNEY WILL SPEAK ABOUT LIFE AT SOTHEBY’S IN THIS AGE OF COLLECTING. WE CAN’T WAIT!

Proud to be included in an article on the Data-Driven Art Market, an excellent post on The Clarion List

Art Market Research in
The Clarion List

 

Founded in 2015 by former Christie’s executives Jessica Paindiris and Gaia Banowich, The Clarion List is the leading online resource to provide a comprehensive, vetted directory of top-rated art services worldwide, including art consultants, framers, appraisers, storage and installation companies, auction houses and more.

https://www.clarionlist.com

I am proud to have been included in their latest outstanding article, Data-Driven: How Art Market Research Benefits Collectors and Professionals, posted below and, of course, on their website.

https://blog.clarionlist.com/posts/data-driven-how-art-market-research-benefits-collectors-and-professionals-25309985

Data-Driven: How Art Market Research Benefits Collectors & Professionals

For the last decade, the market has been abuzz with the emergence of fine art as an asset class. Now, perhaps more than at any other point in the history of art collecting, purchase decisions are heavily influenced by an artwork’s value as an investment.

Leslie Rankow, an established art consultant, said, “It’s hard work to be a good collector. It requires a lot of time – reading, learning and traveling.” As a consultant, she tries to direct her clients to works not only that they will enjoy for many years, but also that are likely to also appreciate in value while they are being appreciated! She said, “Anyone can choose a work of art. It’s my job to say ‘no,’ as often as ‘yes’ and make sure that the work has additional reasons for being purchased, i.e. its quality and potential value.”

So how do consultants and other professionals in the art market know where to steer their clients?

These advisors often turn to art market research companies like Art Market Research (AMR) that specialize in data-driven valuations, thereby providing an essential road map.

AMR has been providing this kind of analysis since 1978. Director Sebastian Duthy said, “Before you buy or sell art, antiques or collectibles, it pays to triangulate available price information. Our data is organized in ways to help understand the market from different perspectives. Looking at the middle and top end of the market is a good place to start.”

According to the company’s website, “Transactions on Art, Antiques and Collectibles are recorded from auction houses worldwide and updated to AMR’s database every month. Data analysts with specialist knowledge of art history, then categorizes each individual lot into Painting (unique two-dimensional works), Sculpture, Photographs and Sculpture. For Antiques and Collectibles, we employ experts in each field to value a ‘basket of goods’ and update prices once or twice yearly.” AMR also offers a “revaluation tool” to help users estimate current open market values. Art market professionals can access AMR’s data and tools with a quarterly or annual subscription.

Apart from informing purchase decisions, in what other ways can data from art market research be used?

Duthy said, “Our indexes are relied on by a range of industry players. Art market professionals, US and UK tax authorities use the indexes to calculate fair market value on discretionary goods, while insurance companies use them as benchmarks for calculating premiums. Our indexes are also very popular with students of correlation analysis and journalists looking for data to support breaking stories.”

Robin Kalota is a passionate collector with a background in wealth management and estate planning. When her parents passed and she inherited their collection of art and collectibles, she realized that many families might need help to plan or manage this complex process. She founded Plan Art LLC, which provides collection analysis, procures valuations, identifies transfer options – such as gifting, donating or selling – and evaluates how, when and to whom collections will be transferred. She said that informing clients of the current market value of their holdings is the first step in helping them to make transfer decisions.

Kalota uses a wide range of databases and online tools to research works for her client. She said, “Clearly value means different things to different people. However, I do think that there are universal standards that art collectors look for that bear up over time. Things like the provenance and condition of the art work, rarity of the work, market demand for the artist and genre, and cultural and historical relevance in the art market. Those works that seem to hold their value over different market cycles tend to meet high standards in those categories. There will always be popular artists and genres that fetch high prices in any market cycle and are reflective of changing tastes and trends. Those works are reflective of our popular culture and will always appeal to a portion of the market. Whether they can sustain that value over time and reflect a new and enduring mode of expression is another matter.”

What causes fluctuations in the art market?

When presented with the question, Kalota said, “Art is truly a discretionary purchase. In my opinion, economic trends have the far greater impact on the buying public, i.e. through such factors as income growth and individual debt levels, plus the effect of taxes on personal wealth. Perhaps it is my background in investment management, but I think keeping an eye on interest rates and trends in economic growth are critical to assessing the health of any marketplace.”

Socio-political change also appears to play a role. Duthy said, “While the average value of artworks has grown three-fold in the last ten years, we have also seen increasing market uncertainty. Ten years of growth may have encouraged many new collectors into art but most are focused on familiar name artists. Less attractive works can be left behind as buyers fight for museum quality pieces. With the tide of populism and the threat to global co-operation showing no signs of abating, uncertainty in the art market is likely to be exacerbated this year. Whether heat taken out of the market proves to be good thing for the long term future or not, remains to be seen.”

So what does the future hold for the art market

Kalota spoke of an increasing democratization of collecting. She said, “Along with other market observers, I’ve watched the gap between the high-net-worth buyer and the middle market continue to widen both in terms of the buying public and among the gallerists and dealers that sustain them. The drivers of demand in those markets couldn’t be more diverse. At the same time, we are seeing a broadening in the foundational base of the market through art fairs and the use of social media, which has made the art world far more accessible to the average collector. Given the shift in buying habits that new generations are bringing to the table, I consider that a major positive for the long-term sustainability of the overall art market.”

Duthy was similarly optimistic, but stressed the importance of making informed, data-driven decisions. He said, “Tastes in art change and so art dealers and auction houses have learnt to adapt. These abilities were never more evident when Christie’s capitalized on their presence in the Chinese market during the financial crash of 2008. Values in Chinese art grew 35% in the two years until the end of 2008 and the growth continued again in 2010 and 2011. Saffronart in India was also recording impressive stats and the opening of Salcedo auctions in the Philippines in 2010 and Tehran Auctions in Iran in 2012 proved that serious buyers could now be found all over the world. However, while the globalization of the art market has entered the collective consciousness, what has emerged is not a homogenous entity. Now, more than ever, knowledge supported by quality data is essential before buying and selling art.”

The career path leading to Sotheby’s New York with Courtney Kremers, Senior VP and Senior Contemporary Specialist

Sotheby’s New York

SOTHEBY’S IS CELEBRATING ITS 275TH ANNIVERSARY BUT IS HARDLY AN OLD FOGEY, DYNAMIC IN ITS EVER INNOVATIVE EXPANSION IN TERMS OF ACQUISITIONS OF NEW COMPANIES, FROM EVERYTHING AS DIVERSE AS THREAD GENIUS, A COMPANY THAT DEVELOPED ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE CLIENT EXPERIENCE BY MATCHING AN OBJECT TO AN INDIVIDUAL’S PREFERENCE AT A CERTAIN PRICE POINT, TO THE MEI MOSES ART INDICES, THEREBY GAINING UNIQUE ACCESS TO AN ANALYTIC TOOL THAT PROVIDES OBJECTIVE AND VERIFIABLE MEASURES OF THE ART MARKET BY TRACKING THE VALUE OF AN OBJECT OVER TIME. IN 2016, SOTHEBY’S BROUGHT SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN-HOUSE WITH THE ACQUISITION OF ORION ANALYTICAL AND THE APPOINTMENT OF ITS FOUNDER, THE RENOWNED ART WORLD SCIENTIST JAMES MARTIN, KNOWN AS A TOUR DE FORCE IN USING TECHNOLOGY TO UNCOVER NEARLY UNDETECTABLE MISTAKES IN COPIES THAT APPEAR FLAWLESS TO THE NAKED EYE.

New Sothebys Galleries
designed by OMA

THIS SPRING, SOTHEBY’S NEW YORK, IN TIME FOR OUR FORTHCOMING IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN, POST-WAR AND CONTEMPORARY MAJOR AUCTIONS, OPENED ITS NEW DAZZLING RENOVATION TO THE PUBLIC. ARCHITECT SHIGEMATSU OF OMA, NEW YORK HAS UPDATED THE INTERNATIONAL AUCTION HOUSE’S HEADQUARTERS. THE INCREASED EXHIBITION SPACES, THE MIX OF VARIOUS SHAPED ROOMS, CORRIDORS AND GALLERIES  AND EXPANSION OF PRIVATE SALE VIEWING ROOMS, AS WELL AS  THE CREATION OF A DOUBLE-HEIGHT SPACE ON THE GROUND FLOOR ALL CONTRIBUTE STUNNINGLY TO SOTHEBY’S AMBITION TO BE THE BEST IN A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE ALTHOUGH REMARKABLY SMALL INDUSTRY.

Cecily Brown

SENIOR VP AND SENIOR CONTEMPORARY SPECIALIST, COURTNEY KREMERS, WAS KIND ENOUGH TO PROVIDE A TOUR OF THE NEW GALLERIES AND IT IS WITH GREAT PLEASURE THAT THE LRFA BLOG CONTINUES OUR CHAT.

TODAY, COURTNEY WILL TRACE HER PROFESSIONAL PATH FROM UNIVERSITY ACADEMICIAN TO SOTHEBY SPECIALIST WITH A HISTORY OF HER ART WORLD EXPERIENCE PRIOR TO JOINING THEIR RANKS.

WELCOME!

COURTNEY, DO YOU THINK THESE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS HAVE BEEN PUT TO GOOD USE IN THE WORK YOU DO TODAY, AS AN AUCTION SPECIALIST AND, IF SO, HOW?

There were plenty of confused parents when I said I was getting an Art History degree (from Duke). They would ask, perplexed, “Well what will you do with that?” A kid growing up in NYC probably received a different reaction, but in Frederick, where no one knew anyone who worked in the art world, I think they thought I was wasting a good college education. I feel very lucky that my undergrad/grad time was a precursor to what I do on a daily basis now. As a Specialist, I am constantly researching art works, analyzing importance, condition, etc. My job now involves an assessment of value, which wasn’t part of my formal education, but it is certainly an extension of it.  

Kerry James Marshall

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE ART WORLD?  WHAT WERE THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS YOU LEARNED THERE?

My first job out of college was working for the Mugrabi Collection. I had no idea who they were. I remember trying to Google them before the interview. In the first week, both Tobias Meyer and Larry Gagosian called. I answered the phone, and asking if they could spell their last names for me please almost ended my employment. 

The Mugrabi family taught me a lot, and they still do. They are tough businessmen who know their markets cold. If someone thinks the price they are quoting is too high, they will pull out five auction catalogues in which comparable works were sold and walk you through each result, and how that example stacks up to theirs and also where the markets were then/now. And for artists where they see future growth, they are more than happy to hold their position, and their asking prices, and wait for everyone else to catch up.  

Mark Rothko

THE MUGRABI FAMILY IS KNOWN AS MARKET MOVERS, TAKING MAJOR POSITIONS ON ARTISTS SUCH AS JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT AND DAMIEN HIRST. THE VALUE OF THEIR COLLECTION, WHICH INCLUDES THE LAREST PRIVATE CACHE OF WORKS BY ANDY WARHOL, HAS BEEN ESTIMATED AT OVER $100 MILLION.

WHAT WERE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AT THE MUGRABI COLLECTION?  WHAT ASPECTS OF THE JOB WERE THE MOST REWARDING?

Day one through Day 365, I did a lot of answering the phone and fixing the printer, but also, noting auction prices in the catalogues, creating fact sheets for new acquisitions, and providing clients with research, images, etc. for works under discussion. My responsibilities grew. The Mugrabis were incredibly generous in opening doors, and encouraging me to attend gallery openings, dinners, and art fairs on their behalf. When we loaned works to a Basquiat exhibition in Rome, I flew over to make sure the installation was as promised. For a 22 year old, new to New York, and new to the art world, it was all pretty thrilling. Looking back now, probably nothing was more impactful than meeting the artists who would come in for lunch, and the artworks that would come and go from the walls.

WHAT WONDERFUL TRAINING FOR THE TIME AHEAD!

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, COURTNEY WILL GIVE US HER VERY INFORMED RECOMMENDATIONS ABOUT COLLECTING ART!

PLEASE JOIN US!

Christopher Wool

NB The artworks featured in today’s LRFA blog post are lots in the forthcoming Contemporary Evening Auction on May 16th at their New York headquarters at 1334 York Avenue.

The LRFA blog welcomes Courtney Kremers, Senior VP at Sotheby’s, just in time for the May auctions!

Courtney Kremers
Senior VP & Senior Contemporary Specialist, Sotheby’s

FOUNDED IN 1744, SOTHEBY’S IS THE OLDEST AND LARGEST INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FIRM OF FINE ART AUCTIONEERS IN THE WORLD. IT HAS A GLOBAL NETWORK OF 80 OFFICES IN 40 COUNTRIES AND IS THE OLDEST COMPANY LISTED ON THE NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE. SOTHEBY’S FOUNDER, SAMUEL BAKER, WAS AN ENTREPRENEUR, OCCASIONAL PUBLISHER AND SUCCESSFUL BRITISH BOOKSELLER WHO HELD HIS FIRST AUCTION UNDER HIS OWN NAME ON MARCH 11, 1744. FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY, BAKER AND HIS SUCCESSORS REPRESENTED THE SALE OF GREAT LIBRARIES, INCLUDING THE EARLS OF SUNDERLAND AND PEMBROKE AND THE DUKES OF DEVONSHIRE, YORK AND BUCKINGHAM.

Sotheby’s, London, 1800s

IN THE 20th CENTURY, PETER WILSON PROVED AN INSPIRING CHAIRMAN DURING THE POST-WAR YEARS. HE OPENED AN IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN ART DEPARTMENT AND ATTRACTED PRIVATE BUYERS AS WELL AS THE TRADE. IN 1958, THE GOLDSCHMIDT SALE CREATED A NEW WORLD RECORD FOR A FINE ART SALE AND WAS A MEDIA SENSATION…AND THUS, THE SEEDS WERE SOWN FOR THE SOTHEBY’S WE KNOW TODAY.

Peter Wilson (1913-1984)
Sotheby’s Chairman

SOTHEBY’S WAS THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL AUCTION HOUSE TO EXPAND FROM LONDON TO NEW YORK, THE FIRST TO CONDUCT SALES IN HONG KONG, INDIA AND FRANCE AND THE FIRST TO ESTABLISH A FINE ART AUCTION HOUSE IN CHINA.  A COMPANY OF MANY FIRSTS, SOTHEBY’S IS A FORERUNNER IN THE AUCTION WORLD NOT JUST FOR THE ARTS BUT FOR MANY LUXURY GOODS SUCH AS REAL ESTATE, DIAMONDS AND WINE SETTING A BENCHMARK FOR INNOVATION AND MARKETING IN HIGHLY COMPETITIVE SECTORS.

Sotheby’s New York 2019

TODAY, IN ANTICIPATION OF THE MAY SALES IN NEW YORK, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO WELCOME SOTHEBY’S SENIOR VP AND SENIOR CONTEMPORARY SPECIALIST, COURTNEY KREMERS, A COLLEAGUE, FRIEND AND POWERHOUSE, TO PROVIDE AN ASTUTE INSIDER’S VIEW ON THE WORKINGS OF THIS LEGENDARY AUCTION HOUSE.

COURTNEY, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE LRFA BLOG!

Thank you for inviting me!

WHEN DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN ART? DID YOU GROW UP IN A FAMILY OF ARTISTS OR COLLECTORS?

I grew up in Frederick, MD – at the time it was more open fields and baseball games than art galleries and museums. But my parents loved to travel – and wherever we went, we spent time in art museums. We were close enough to D.C. and Baltimore that we also went to see the big shows there. My dad would quiz us over lunch on what artists we saw, when the works were painted, any fun facts from the wall text or tour we went on. So I guess I fell in love with the game first, knowing the ‘who, what, where, when, why’ of art history. 

Vincent Van Gogh
Sunflowers

WHAT WAS THE FIRST WORK OF ART THAT CAPTURED YOUR ATTENTION AND WHY AND WHAT DID THAT LEAD TO?

Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. I ended up buying a poster and then decorating my entire room around the sunflower theme. I was a kid, so I probably was attracted to the subject matter first, but ultimately, even a kid can see that this is not just a pretty picture. Van Gogh paints with a freedom and a lack of inhibition that was mesmerizing and still is now. It is that same quality that I am drawn to in the work of contemporary artists I respect – a lack of inhibition and an unself-consciousness about expressing a unique point of view.  

Lee Lozano
oil on canvas
circa 1960s

YOU HAVE A DISTINGUISHED ACADEMIC HISTORY, BEING RECOGNIZED FOR BOTH THE CONNOISSEURSHIP AND MOST OUTSTANDING THESIS AWARDS IN THE MASTER OF ART PROGRAM AT CHRISTIE’S EDUCATION.  WHAT WAS THE SUBJECT OF YOUR THESIS?

My thesis was on Lee Lozano, who is still something of a cult artist. Lee only worked for 10 years in New York, in the 1960s and early 70s, and then disappeared; she literally dropped out of the art world. My thesis connected the dots between the first works she made in the early 60s, that were really provocative, vocal drawings, which railed against what she saw as a vast inequality in the opportunities afforded men and women in the world generally, and also in the art world specifically. She was ahead of her time in this regard. Those drawings evolved into paintings of tools that played on puns, and then more hard-edge Minimalist canvases based on physics and the body. Ultimately, her work became totally Conceptual in nature and performance based. Then she threw in the towel and left New York. She crackled with ideas and energy herself, but to use a common expression, she “burned twice as bright but half as long.” 

LEE LOZANO WAS A VERY DARING AND CONTROVERSIAL ARTIST AHEAD OF HER TIME INVESTIGATING THE BODY AND ISSUES OF GENDER. SHE IS REPRESENTED NOW BY THE PRESTIGIOUS GALLERY, HAUSER & WIRTH. THAT WAS QUITE AN ADVENTURESOME CHOICE FOR YOUR THESIS!

https://www.hauserwirth.com/artists/2812-lee-lozano

IN OUR NEXT BLOG, COURTNEY WILL SPEAK ABOUT HER TRANSITION FROM ART HISTORY AND ACADEMIA TO THE INTERNATIONAL AUCTION WORLD.

STAY TUNED!