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A Professional Portrait by Natalia Voinova

Senior Bid Coordinator

Christie's Auction House

Bids Department

Published: 11th February 2018

What inspired you to pursue a career in the arts?

I studied Art History at university, so I naturally gravitated to the sector. It’s a great combination of working in a fast-paced industry, but one that has soul. There is opportunity to see great art and meet passionate people. At the same time there is a wide spectrum of jobs – legal, digital, specialists, photographers, researchers, business getters, intelligence, etc. There are a lot of directions you can go.

 

Can you tell us a little about your role?

We process the remote bidding requests for auctions. These can be telephone bids, absentee bids (also called written or commission bids), and Christie’s LIVE our online bidding platform. This aspect of the job is about being detail-oriented and precise. Assume nothing!

I feel like I am problem-solving all day – whether it is trying to decipher a cryptically-worded email, finding the best way to train new telephone bidders, or figuring out how to deal with an unprecedented auction scenario.  

Additionally, I look after Christie’s LIVE, this includes problem resolution, developing and implementing changes to the online bidding experience. I work closely with the digital team, Compliance, and my counterparts worldwide. This is a challenging and rewarding aspect of the job.

 

What does your average day entail?

As with any job- no such thing as an average day! On a sale day, I would arrive to the office to see how many bid requests have come in overnight, our auctions are very international, so it’s around the clock. The Bids team work closely to process the requests, making sure everything is ready. The auction waits for no one, so I have to work quickly- prioritising deadlines and making business judgements on the spot.

After the auction starts I’m usually in the saleroom either Sale Clerking, or telephone bidding until the end of the auction. I appear in a lot of the auction photos, the person standing next to the auctioneer. There is no room for error in this role, so it can get intense.

After the auction finishes, we must quickly wrap up, and then it’s on to the next one!

 

How did you get your job?

I started as a part-time Gallery Assistant in Christie’s while I was studying at university. When the job in the Bids Office came up, I jumped at the opportunity to join the dynamic team and learn more about the business from the inside. In this department, I’m in a unique position to meet people from all the Specialist and support departments.

 

What is the best part of your job?

The colleagues you meet are the best part, you never stop learning from them. The level of knowledge and professionalism always amazes me, but we know how to have fun too!

 

What is the hardest part of your job?

The variation of workload – you would be working at a normal pace, and then a sale kicks off with a lot of bidding interest and suddenly you working 14-hour days going at a hundred miles an hour. You have to power through it because the show must go on! 

 

What has been the highlight of your career?

As a Sales Clerk (auctioneer’s co-pilot), I get the best view of some of the top lots being sold, so there is a lot to choose from. I would have to say the sale of the Audrey Hepburn Collection was a highlight. She is my favourite actress, and seeing her personal collection was special to me. Working late one day, I was given a chance by the Specialist to try on her signature sunglasses!  During the sale, it was great to see so many fans from all over the world- we even had a few Holly Golightlys bidding in the room!  

 

What is your favourite Artwork?

Red Sunset on the Dnieper by Arkhip Kuindzhi, you can feel the evening sun when standing in front of it. I’m also originally from the region where it’s painted so there is a connection.

 

Which artist would you have liked or would like to meet?

Vincent van Gogh to tell him he is going to be very famous one day, and that everything is going to be alright, he just needs to hang in there a bit.

 

What advice would you give to people trying to enter the art industry?

There are a lot of different jobs in the industry, keep your options open. And speak to people in the art world, LinkedIn is a great tool for that, people are always willing to share their experiences.

 

If you weren’t in the art industry, what would you be doing?

 

I would be in Consulting. I love problem solving!