Sarah Krueger, as head of sales for the New York Photographs department at Phillips, the contemporary auction house located at Park and 57th Street, manages the manages the auction process for the semi-annual sales in New York. She is one of a handful of female auctioneers making their mark at top art houses around the world. At auctions in April and October Krueger navigated the sales of photography by such iconic names as Henri Cartier Bresson, Edward Steichen, Walker Evans, and Richard Avedon. Phillips’ only female auctioneer in New York recently talked to Haute Living about her unique job and work environment.
Describe your office. As someone whose expertise is photography, how does your office reflect your work?
We have an open-air floor plan which allows for easy collaboration with our Photographs team and other selling departments like Design, Editions, and 20th Century and Contemporary Art. Our Digital department is also nearby and we are constantly coming up with new ideas for presenting innovative content about our sales online.
What type of desk do you work from?
We all have large white desks,which for me, is great for editing catalogue layouts, and working on research for potential consignments to our Photographs sales. Multitasking is part of the job and having the space to work on multiple projects while still being organized is key.
I like being surrounded by objects that inspire me. As an auctioneer for Phillips I have a growing collection of gavels, one of which was hand-made for me by a family member and another that was gifted from our Worldwide Director, Vanessa Hallett, after I received my auctioneering license. Each one is special. I also have an old tin Kodak film canister and a roll of Kodacolor film that expired back in the 1970s. Both came from my grandfather’s darkroom and remind me about the fluidity with which the medium of photography changes over time.
I’m also surrounded by art books from exhibitions that I have seen or want to see. For example, I saw the Vogue 100 exhibition last May while traveling for our Photographs auction and Photo London. A print of an image in the exhibition by Nick Knight was offered in our salesroom (while the exhibition was still on view) and sold for $136,791, setting a new auction record for the photographer. We’re currently getting ready for our next London sale which will be on November 3.
Most importantly, our Phillips catalogues are not only gorgeous but are also incredibly helpful for research and looking back at past sale campaigns and private collections, such as Photographs from the Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago and Important Photographs from the Collection of Dr. Anthony Terrana.
I’m also training for the New York City Marathon, so if you were to ask what is under my desk the answer would be running shoes. A good run is always the perfect way to unwind at the end of the day.
What are the tech items you rely on for your office?
My tech is fairly simple but with that said, I rely heavily on my iPhone so that I can continue to work and be accessible when going back and forth between our office, the galleries and salesroom, or traveling. Our Phillips app is also fantastic for tracking sales and checking in to watch live auctions in all of our international salesrooms.
Instagram is a must. I enjoy following Alex Prager whose work we introduced at auction and for whom we also hold an auction record. The Phillips instagram is also a great way for clients to see quickly what is happening at Phillips.
How long is your day?
Our days start can early–around 8:00 AM. If I’m working on something for London, we can go as late at 8:00 PM. If we are on a catalogue deadline, or if there are charity auctions and events, we can run even later. But generally the days are 9:00 AM-6:00PM, which allows us to get out and see photographic exhibitions and meet people interested in the field, which is always a fun perk of the job. Additionally, with the art market being completely international (in our October sale, we had bidders from 28 countries). we need to be accessible to collectors in different time zones from all corners of the world,