This week we sit down with Sarah Stein-Sapir, a private art consultant that specializes in contemporary and emerging art. She studied art history at Columbia University and received a Masters in Contemporary Art from the Sotheby’s Institute in New York. Upon graduating she began working at Gagosian Gallery’s flagship space on West 24th Street and then went on to work with the World Wide Head of Contemporary Art at auction house Phillips de Pury. After her time there, she joined Philippe Segalot at esteemed art advisory firm Giraud Pissarro Segalot. Along with partners Lionel Pissarro and Franck Giraud and with offices in New York and Paris, GPS dealt primarily with late 19th , 20th and 21st century art. In 2012, Sarah was hired by former auction house expert and advisor Guy Bennett and began advising independently for both private clients and developers. Sarah is the director of Pelham Holdings and advises private individuals and developers through Stein-Sapir Art. Her major development projects include Extell Development’s ONE57 and their forthcoming Central Park Tower in Manhattan on what is commonly referred to as billionaire’s row. We are excited to share Sarah’s Frank Talk answers with you here.
What is the best piece of advice you can give about working in the art world?
Your reputation and relationships will follow you throughout your career – nothing is worth compromising the integrity of either.
What was your first job in the Arts? How did that job help you get to where you are today?
I worked at a major gallery in Chelsea right out of graduate school. There, I learned about the blue chip art market and the inner workings of the gallery structure. I went on to work at an auction house as well as for a private dealer, learning about these different sectors of the market along the way. The knowledge and experience I’ve gained has enabled me to navigate countless situations throughout every stage of my career. The art world is complex and the more facets you’re able to understand, the better equipped and more of an asset you become.
What is something you encounter often with employees that tests your patience?
What tests my patience when working with anyone is carelessness, laziness or attitude.
What does a good employee do?
A good employee is proactive, detail oriented, honest and not afraid to ask questions when they need help.
What makes a person hirable?
I find that the most hirable employees are those that convey a sense of industriousness, speak and write professionally and carry themselves confidently.
What is the most frowned upon trait for an employee?
Someone who thinks they’re above making copies, getting coffee or other menial tasks – we’ve all been there and no matter where you are in your career, you always have to be willing to do what’s necessary to get things done.
What are things a person can do to make them stand out in the workplace?
Being proactive is the biggest stand out quality for me. That means going above and beyond what’s asked of you, creating opportunities, coming up with new ideas and handling situations before they become problems.
What are things you can do proactively boost your CV?
Particularly in the art world, I have found that experience is the best education. The more people, institutions and causes with which you can involve yourself the better – every relationship is both a learning experience and a potential opportunity.
What does professional mean to you?
To me, professional means thoughtful, careful and competent.
Are there any tips you can give people entering the workforce?
Create opportunities for yourself, learn from every experience and don’t be afraid of what you don’t know – figure it out.