Sotheby’s Experience

I have always loved art, but I can’t draw even if my life depended on it. That has made me an art enthusiast that explores the different areas of art, especially the history behind it. When I saw on the Babson Portal that I could have the chance to go to Sotheby’s Headquarters in New York City, I could not pass on the opportunity.

This is the second year that Babson has offered this trip. It was started by the Dean of the Undergraduate School, Ian Lapp, Professor Krcmar, and the Babson Sorenson Center of the Arts.

The trip was an entire day featuring lectures, a tour, and art.

First, we were welcomed to Sotheby’s by Christine Kua, the CEO and Director of Sotheby’s Institute of Art - New York, created in 1969. The Sotheby’s Institute of Art provides an exclusive experience in the studies of art. Degrees that can be attained there are Masters of Art, in Art Business, Contemporary Art, Fine and Decorative Art and Design, and Field Study. The institute also offers six to eight week online courses and summer study session in New York.

Then, we were introduced to the Sotheby’s Auction House by Marcus Fox, the Senior Vice President and Head of Business at Sotheby’s. Marcus gave us insight on the variety of functions Sotheby’s has. Sotheby’s is a global company that is publicly traded on the stock market. Because of its’ large stature, we can’t just assume that Sotheby’s is a gallery with a bunch of paintings. Sotheby’s does auctions, with over 250 sales a year and over 70 collecting categories, private sales, retail through diamonds and wine, advisory, and financial services.

After this, we were given a gallery tour of the Contemporary Evening Highlights from Kelsey Leonard, the Associate Cataloger of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s. This gallery is full of the art that will be sold in the upcoming auction. I was able to take photos of some of them, some of these pieces haven’t been seen in decades and others have never been seen by the public!

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After the tour, it was time for lectures. The first lecture was by Suzanne Julig, the director of Summer Study, and she informed us of “The Role of the Art Advisor”. Suzanne spoke on the specialization and knowledge needed to become an Art Advisor, along with the need for the profession in today’s art market. It was interesting to know that there are currently no regulating bodies for this profession, but there is a natural code of ethics to it that includes experience, reputation, and understanding. The second lecture was a major shift, compared to what we had been seeing the entire day. Most of the day was focused on contemporary art, until we had a “Pleasures of the 17th and 18th Centuries” lecture by Ann Bell, Masters of Arts Faculty, Fine and Decorative Art and Design. Ann discussed the history behind movements of art and the popularity of art collecting developing.   

I learned more about the art market, the people that make it up, and how Sotheby’s plays a major role within this. Additionally, I learned about meanings behind works that have not been publicly seen in decades, and some have never been seen until now. This was a rare experience that I would recommend for anyone interested in art and business.