Why Auction Veteran Saara Pritchard Is Joining Amy Cappellazzo’s New Advisory Firm as a Partner
After 14 years in the auction industry, Pritchard is taking on a new role.
In spring 2020, during the early days of the pandemic lockdown, auction house veteran Saara Pritchard came up with an idea when nearly every art business was scrambling to find ways to keep business moving.
The idea, which became the Sotheby’s Gallery Platform, allowed galleries to list artworks for sale through the auction house’s website, which helped expose works to a wider audience and potential buyer pool, and also allowed the galleries take advantage of the auction house’s existing e-commerce platform, in exchange for a flat commission based on sales.
“It was kind of my way of—not exactly being disruptive—but just realizing this is the entire art world,” Pritchard told Artnet News in a phone interview. “It’s not auction houses versus galleries. We all need to work together to reach new collectors for all of our businesses to succeed. We needed to have this influx of new energy. You can’t just keep offering the same things to the same people all the time.”
Now, after 14 years in the auction industry, including high-profile roles at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, Pritchard is joining former Sotheby’s colleagues Amy Cappellazzo and Adam Chinn and Asian art-market rainmaker Yuki Terase at their newly launched art advisory, Art Intelligence Global, as a partner.
“Saara Pritchard is one of the most knowledge and able art experts of her generation,” Cappellazzo told Artnet News via email. “From Ab Ex to young emerging contemporary, her range of knowledge and execution skills are top flight.”
“People ask what the business model is,” Pritchard said of the new advisory. “I think we’re all united in this philosophy that things can be done in a much better way. I spent many years across the table from estates and organizing big pitches. I loved telling the stories of these collectors, but also it’s important to consider very practical considerations. How does the estate get broken up? What is sold? What is gifted? Seeing all the different ways families have done this over generations, and obviously what a substantial asset class that art has become, it’s really important to have good advice.”
Pritchard said when she hung the art collection she shares with her husband, she realized most of it was by women artists. “We have 75 percent women artists. That wasn’t something that I set out to do, it was work that made sense to my husband and me.”
That’s perhaps not surprising to outside observers. At Sotheby’s, Pritchard was particularly known for being a strong advocate for female artists, as evidenced by her instrumental role in the development of the market for the work of Lee Krasner. She brought the first all-female auction to market, chaired by Oprah Winfrey and Agnes Gund and titled “By Women, For Tomorrow’s Women.”
“I can look at my Perle Fine and Hedda Sterne drawings and I love the Elaine de Kooning Cave next to a Sylvia Sleigh drawings of stones,” she said. “I love that it’s all from the Hamptons, about these women who were never really in the art world—kind of adjacent because of their husbands—but they made these gorgeous works.”
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