Sotheby’s Promotes 37-Year Veteran Benjamin Doller to Chairman, Americas

He started out as a cataloger.

Benjamin Doller in 2011. Photo Patrick McMullan.

After 37 years with Sotheby’s, Americas vice chairman Benjamin Doller has been promoted to chairman, Americas. Doller joins current Americas chairmen Lisa Dennison and George Wachter. He’s been in his current position for a decade.

The auction house credits Doller with a pivotal role in drumming up more than $2 billion in art sales, with a focus in Impressionist and modern art and 19th-century European paintings. He got his start as a cataloguer in the 19th-century paintings department after joining the house in 1979, and was promoted to auctioneer in 1986. He rose to head of specialists before becoming vice chairman. Among the major sales he’s been involved with were the estates of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Andy Warhol.

“Throughout his career, Benjamin has demonstrated an exceptional ability to work across all collecting categories to secure high-profile consignments and sell them on a global level,” says Amy Cappellazzo, chairman of Sotheby’s Fine Art Division, in a press release.

“The auction world is an evolving space, and I thrive on change,” says Doller. “Throughout my time at Sotheby’s, I have seen the shift away from compartmentalized collecting towards a cross-category, holistic approach of clients at every level.”

In a video at Sotheby’s website, Doller relates the house’s 1986 sale of a canvas by Jacques-Louis David, which went to the Getty Museum for more than $5 million on a $2 million–$3 million estimate. While the painting was at the auction house, Doller says, Warhol came to visit and was so entranced with it that he exclaimed, “Oh, my God! I wish I was a painter.”

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