Q & A with Serena Harrigin, Co-Founder of Gray’s Auctioneers

Serena Harrigin discusses the Cleveland auctioneer's work.

Frank Oriti, Deba Gray and Serena Harragin, Gray's Auctioneers, Cleveland, OH

Name: Serena Harragin

Title: CEO

Auction House Name: Gray’s Auctioneers & Appraisers

Auction House Address: 10717 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102

Deba Gray and Serena Harragin by Frank Oriti

Frank Oriti, Deba Gray and Serena Harragin, Gray’s Auctioneers, Cleveland, OH

Amanda Lampard: What does your auction house specialize in?

Serena Harragin: We were founded by one of the best generalists in the country. Deba Gray’s eye for art and prodigious knowledge infuse all we do here at Gray’s. Just like all the top regional auction houses, we specialize in it all: Fine Art, furniture, Decorative Art, rugs, and jewelry.

AL: Can you tell us about any exciting development plans for your auction house?

SH: We are excited to be growing our gallery and our private sales division. The gallery at Gray’s will be developing new and under-represented talent through our presence on Amazon, in international art fairs, and in a new space we plan to open in Los Angeles next year.

AL: When is your next important sale? Why should we come?

SH: Our auctions are fun! On September 18 we’ll be selling a rare Bian Lu (Chinese) painting on silk, some works by Damien Hirst (British, b.1965), a few pieces by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 18817–1973), and a monumental, carved walnut, figural fireplace mantle after Valentino Panciera Besarel (Italian, 1829–1902). It’s the mixture that makes it so dynamic.

Valium by Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst, Valium, c.2000, full color gloss finish lambda on archive paper, Gray’s Auctioneers, Cleveland, OH

AL: Are you reaching out clients? Or are they coming to you?

SH: Our consignors are finding us–another result of the Internet–but we are also reaching out to the local community by marketing locally and offering complimentary appraisals during our “What’s It Worth?” Fridays.

AL: Has the Internet dramatically changed the dynamic of your business?

SH: The Internet is our business. We are six years old; we’ve grown throughout the downturn, thanks in large part to the Internet, and our auction hosting partners Live Auctioneers, artnet, Artprice, Artfact, etc. The Internet has revolutionized the industry.

AL: Has the growth of the Chinese art market impacted your business yet?

SH: The interest from Chinese buyers has been very strong, but I am noticing that these days, Chinese buyers are increasingly more cautious.

Flowering Tree with Birds attributed to Bian Lu

Attributed to Bian Lu, Flowering Tree with Birds, ink and watercolor on silk, Gray’s Auctioneers, Cleveland, OH

AL: Do you collect art yourself? If so, tell us about your collection.

SH: I am lucky enough to be married to my own personal curator, Deba Gray. The only piece we regret not buying was a 12” carved skeletal figure we saw in Lamu, Kenya. It was so striking and would have fit right in with our collection.

AL: If you could have dinner with any three artists, living or dead, who would you choose?

SH: We would have great dinner conversations with Romaine Brooks (American, 1874–1970), Gertrude Stein, and Remedios Varo (Spanish, 1908–1963).

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.