Published: March 31, 2016
By Laura Beach
NEW YORK CITY – After 43 years at Sotheby’s, Nancy Druckman is hanging out her shingle. Druckman, who climbed through the ranks to become a senior vice president, directed Sotheby’s American folk art department since 1974, building it into the market leader while establishing herself as a pivotal figure in the field. In her new role as an independent consultant, she will offer strategies for collections management, advising clients on buying, selling, donating and documenting works.
Druckman, who since January 2015 had served as a consultant to Sotheby’s, told Antiques and The Arts Weekly that, after lengthy discussion, she had accepted a buyout package. She agreed to stay through the especially active January 2016 season, when, under her direction, the firm auctioned the folk art collection of Stephen and Petra Levin. Druckman also assisted with the sale of American decorative arts from the collection of Irvin and Anita Schorsch.
Druckman’s first assignment for Sotheby’s was cataloging property belonging to Colonel Edgar William and Mrs Bernice Chrysler Garbisch. She subsequently administered the landmark sales of the collections of Stewart E. Gregory, Howard and Jean Lipman, Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little, Donald and Faye Walters, Peter Tillou, M. Austin and Jill R. Fine, Bernard M. Barenholtz, David L. Davies, Betty Ring and Ralph Esmerian, among others. Among many records, a J.L. Mott Indian Chief weathervane brought $5.8 million, selling to collector Jerry Lauren in October 2006.
An advisor to museums and institutions, Druckman has been especially active in the American Folk Art Museum and has appeared on all but two seasons of the PBS series Antiques Roadshow.
“I have been tremendously fortunate in my career. I love the art and I love the people. Because of restrictions on what I could do at Sotheby’s, it made more sense for me to become a free agent. I’m enormously invested with my clients. They are the center of my professional existence. This gives me the opportunity to work with the same people who have been part of my life for the last 40 years, being a resource for whatever their needs may be,” Druckman said.
A staff exodus has been underway at Sotheby’s, as the giant adjusts to a changing marketplace and responds to investors’ demands. Artnet News reported the recent departures of 14 senior staff with a cumulative 311 years of professional experience. Druckman now joins a list that includes Henry Wyndham, a 22-year Sotheby’s veteran who chaired the company’s European division; Mitchell Zuckerman, executive vice president of global operations; Anthony Grant, senior vice president and international senior specialist in contemporary art; Melanie Clore, European chairman and worldwide co-chairman of Impressionist and modern art; and Elaine Whitmire, vice chairman, head of specialists, decorative arts.
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