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Christopher Mahoney, senior Vice President of Photographs at Sotheby's New York, has announced that Denise Bethel will be stepping down as Chairman of Phtoographs, and with leave the company to work independently, advising private clients and institutions, lecturing, and writing. In a newsletter circulated to clients he notes: "Denise joined Sotheby’s in 1990. Since then, the Photographs Department, under her leadership, has transformed the world auction market for photographs, setting every record there is to set: from a single classic photograph at auction ($2.93 million, a record that still stands today) to any photographs auction to date, our recent 175 Masterworks to Celebrate 175 Years of Photography: Property from Joy of Giving Something Foundation, at $21.3 million.
During Denise’s time at Sotheby’s, a number of museums have entrusted us with photographs from their collections, among them The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the George Eastman House, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Museum of the City of New York. Our record of outstanding single-owner sales and individual artists’ records are too long to include here, but suffice it to say that Denise has been at the podium for every single one of them."
She is very widely respected both personally and for her expertise and experience.
According to her profile on Sotheby's website:
Denise Bethel joined the Sotheby’s Photographs department in 1990 and since 1995, has been its Director and primary Auctioneer. She has played a key role in the development of the market for fine art photographs in New York, the epicenter of the photographs collecting world. Her long experience in appraising and selling significant photographs has made her the senior expert and senior auctioneer in the world of photographs auctions in the United States.
Ms Bethel hammered down the most expensive classic photograph ever sold at auction, The Pond—Moonlight by Edward Steichen, at $2,928,000. Part of the February 2006 landmark Sotheby's sale,Important Photographs from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Including Works from the Gilman Paper Company Collection, this and other blue-chip images brought a total of $14,982,900, a record for a single-owner collection of photographs sold at auction.
Trusted by collectors, curators and dealers the world over, Ms Bethel has garnered for Sotheby's the lion's share of photographs sold by American museums during the past several years, among them works from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the George Eastman House, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.
A frequent lecturer on the history of photography, the photographs market and collecting, Ms Bethel has spoken at a range of major institutions, including Harvard University, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington and in London, the International Center of Photography, and the George Eastman House, amongst many others. A noted scholar and writer, she has published numerous articles on various aspects of photography. Prior to joining Sotheby’s, Ms Bethel served ten years as Director of the Photographs department and Auctioneer at Swann Galleries, a rare books auction house in New York.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hollins College, Virginia, and a Master of Arts degree with Distinction from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
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