Art Auctioneer – Career Connections – WNEO


♪ Art auctioneering
combines content skills– knowledge of products
to be sold– with process skills– the ability to appraise,
then sell those products– combined with a high level
of financial literacy. I am the lead auctioneer.
I am the auctioneer. I am the head appraiser. I am responsible for cataloging and overseeing the data entry. I do estate visits. I’m doing appraisals. I’m trying to train people, but I’m also
in charge of the staff. I’m like fearless leader. (female host)
Deba Gray’s career began with formal
art school training. In my second year
at the Cleveland Art Institute, I lost my scholarship
and I decided I was going to go that journey
and find apprentice work. I worked in steel.
I worked in cement. I did some traveling. I went to Israel,
did a kibbutz, did some crazy things. When I came back, I called
the local auction house and asked if they needed
any gofer help. They were like, “What?” And I’m like,
“I’ll do anything. I love art.” I started off on the phones, and I worked
answering the phones, and then they said,
“Can you help on the floor?” I’m like, “Yeah,”
and I worked my way up, and I learned the most
at an auction house. I’ve worked
for three auction houses. After Wolf’s, I worked
at Leslie Hindman in Chicago, and then at Sotheby’s. After three auction houses, it was time for me
to start my own. You learn by touching it and by talking to the
old-timers who collected it, and you do these estates. I would shadow the experts,
and I started learning. Now, you also have to go
to an auctioneer school. While jumping in feet first
at an auction house was Deba’s path
to art auctioneering, there’s a formal
educational process to follow. Mark Walton
is a professional auctioneer who operates a school
that teaches auctioneering, licensed by the State of Ohio. To get ready to become
an auctioneer, you have to attend an approved
auctioneering school. Once you’ve passed that school, you need to secure
a sponsoring auctioneer who will take you under
their wing for a year. You take a written test to become
an apprentice auctioneer, which is its own license, and you’ll apprentice
for no less than 12 months. In that apprenticeship period, you have to participate
as a caller in 12 different auctions. Once you’ve fulfilled the requirements
of your apprenticeship– and you must be bonded as an apprentice
and as an auctioneer– you fill out your bond
and paperwork and take the auctioneer’s exam. The exam’s two-part,
written and oral. The oral portion
is selling an item in front of the state
auctioneer’s commission. They want to see
what you sound like, see your poise
and your pacing, do you know where it sold to,
how much it sold for. They make sure you’re competent
in what you’re doing before you can work
as a licensed auctioneer. Auctioneers are often
small business owners, but some work under contract
with established auction houses. They have both content skills– the knowledge
of the products they sell, like pieces of art, antiques,
real estate, or automobiles– and process skills–
the ability to get the best price at auction
for items they’re selling. (Walton)
Some people are toy experts,
some are experts in antiques. And they’ll generally gravitate
towards their expertise and combine that with
the process skills they learn in marketing and advertising, how to conduct the auction,
how to account for it. They combine the content
and process skills and have
a marketable business that differentiates itself
from others. In Ohio, it takes
80 actual classroom hours to become a licensed auctioneer, in addition to
the apprenticeship requirement. To prepare
for auctioneer school, you should take business
and marketing-oriented courses and any course
that would give you knowledge about the special types
of auctions you might run. Deba Gray’s specialty
is art auctioneering. An auction house is like
an emergency room for art on a full moon
on a Friday night. It’s crazy. We go at such a pace
that it’s not for everybody. But we’re where it’s at. We have our finger on the pulse
of the art world, and literally the art world,
because we’re tied globally. But we’re also dealing
with every type of art. (female auctioneer)
Fair warning. Sold. 4,400
to Live Auctioneers. The auction world
is based on the five– maybe it’s even six D’s now. And it’s death, debt, divorce, downsizing, dealers, dementia. And these are all
really crazy situations. Not the dealers so much, but the dementia and
the downsizing and the divorce. People can’t take it with them, so we are like an island, and
they bring it to the referee. And there’s a journey. When you’re done using
that art or furniture, and it’s time to bring it
to the next owner, this is the passageway. Auction means fair market and what a willing buyer
and a willing seller can come to an agreement upon. It’s those two people
that decide. I’m like a referee between
the buyer and the seller. It’s very different
than retail. Retail is what the market
will bear. It’s not necessarily fair. Fair warning and selling
for one hundred dollars. Sold. And finally– If you can earn your stripes
in the auction world, you can start your own gallery
or work in a museum, or you could start your own
auction house, like I did. Running art
or other kinds of auctions can be a rewarding,
often exciting career, especially for people
with entrepreneurial ambition and selling skills. Funding to purchase and make
this educational production accessible was provided by the
U.S. Department of Education. PH:1-800-USA-LEARN (V)
or WEB: www.ed.gov. ♪

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