Sotheby's Reviews

Updated March 31, 2015
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3.2
51 Reviews
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Approve of CEO
Sotheby's President and Chief Executive Officer Tad Smith
Tad Smith
0 Ratings

Pros
  • You learn to work hard in a fast paced, demanding company (in 5 reviews)

  • Great access to art & property, internal initiatives like art talks and seminars provided by upper management, lots of young people (in 3 reviews)

Cons
  • Impossible to get promoted in a specialist department, low pay (in 8 reviews)

  • Competitive work environment, expected to work long hours and weekends for very low pay (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

Employee Reviews

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  1. Not a bad place, day to day is interesting

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Floater in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Floater in New York, NY

    I have been working at Sotheby's

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    see fantastic art daily, interesting day to day

    Cons

    colleagues are often a bit too serious

    Advice to Management

    treat lower level employees with more, few feel appreciated

  2. Summer Intern

    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Sotheby's

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Undoubtedly, a super-cool place to work. You can tell that Sotheby's is at the apex of the Art World from the second you walk into the building.

    Cons

    Summer is a slow time in the art world, and this reflects on the work load for everyone at the company, especially the interns. Just an issue of timing.

    Advice to Management

    Maintain the strong structure of the internship program. Perhaps streamline some responsibilities for intern with the department heads prior to the internship so some interns are working hard while others aren't. Besides for that, its great.

  3. Helpful (1)

    One hell of a ride

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Contractor - Art Handler in New York, NY
    Former Contractor - Art Handler in New York, NY

    I worked at Sotheby's as a contractor (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Good teamwork everyone pulling in the same direction, lots of opportunity to see great artworks from different categories, lots of passionate peoples

    Cons

    Low paying, high turnover, limited opportunities if not working at mid to senior level, lower jobs looked down upon, underappreciated

    Advice to Management

    Increase flexibility, increase opportunity to develop, show fairness to all instead of favoritism towards experts and senior managers

  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. interesting place to work, low paying

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Assistant Vice President in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Assistant Vice President in New York, NY

    I have been working at Sotheby's full-time (More than 8 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    Good healthcare, great employees, access to amazing art and clients

    Cons

    low paying, lack of long-term vision and planning, lack of HR transparency, long hours

  6. Helpful (1)

    Great experience but low pay and no growth opportunities (unless you know someone)

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I worked at Sotheby's full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great experience working for a very old and respected brand. The experiences gained here you'll never find else where. During my time, I saw no less than three historic sales and witnessed some of the finest works ever made.

    Also, the employee parties are great! The events staff does a fantastic job.

    Cons

    Nepotism is rampant at this company. I've literally (not figuratively - literally) seen people promoted to experienced positions with 1-2 years experience simply because their family knows someone on the Board. Couple that with low pay relative to the market and you'll know why there is a ton of turnover.

    Advice to Management

    Good quality staff requires good salaries.

  7. The top management are really out of touch........

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Sotheby's full-time (More than 8 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great artwork, some fantastic people, and nice place for a college grad......

    Cons

    Employee's are not respected, the top level management are really out of touch, and are not good for the long term business plan.......Dan Loeb, hurry up and clean house, before we lose serious market share

    Advice to Management

    Learn how to cultivate the talent you have in front of you and stop relying on a vendor based staffing paradigm

  8. Sotheby's

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Sotheby's

    Pros

    the art and the people

    Cons

    the salary and the upper management team

  9. Good company, nice benefits and pleasant atmosphere

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - IT Engineer in New York, NY
    Current Employee - IT Engineer in New York, NY

    I have been working at Sotheby's

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    To know how the Art world functions, good compensation package.

    Cons

    time-off policies, leadership, commute, compassionate leadership

    Advice to Management

    time-off policies.

  10. Great exposure to art

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY

    I have been working at Sotheby's full-time (Less than a year)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Numerous great art works coming in everyday
    Lots of young employees
    Interesting people

    Cons

    Very low compensation in the industry

  11. Helpful (4)

    Like working at the Met, but stranger

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Administrator
    Current Employee - Administrator

    I have been working at Sotheby's full-time (More than 3 years)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Regardless of whether you're looking at a corporate function or a specialist department role, it's distinctly a neat place to be. You'll be around countless great works of art and other objects all day long and the colleagues in specialist departments are fascinating, hilarious, unique and wonderful people not to be found anywhere else. There is a great deal to be learned here - about art, about business, and indeed about life - if you're proactive about it. It's also marginally more meritocratic and better run than Christie's.

    Cons

    Most middle-management moved upward from positions in specialist departments after failing to actually move forward in the specialist role. As such, you have a culture in which the "art people" i.e., specialists who are genuinely very talented are pitted against the "bean counters" who weren't good enough to make it at the top of the specialist range and went into management instead - but the bean counters aren't particularly good at counting beans as their degrees are mostly in art history and they rarely have corporate experience outside the arts and auction house fields. So, for example, there are business managers who believe it's "[their] job to say no" (said to me by a business manager at one point) rather than to guide the company to making effective capital investment decisions with positive NPV. If you've worked in a real company before, and are actually tasked with achieving something requiring internal buy-in, it's likely a Sisyphean task that you have ahead of you. Also, the place is run like a sorority house: incompetent members of staff are glad-handed along in what would otherwise be fairly important roles, in many cases almost indefinitely and completely without accountability, while others are treated rather roughly. As others have said, the distinction between the two is almost totally inexplicable. One might think, given the nature of the industry, that this might somehow correlate with who one is, or who one's family are. It often does not. The London office is better in this regard - perhaps reflecting the long-standing notion of competence as a British cultural value.

    Advice to Management

    Greater accountability is key. Right now there is limited accountability for performance outside the recent round of layoffs, which chiefly affected executives who were already wealthy enough not to need a job and people who upper management didn't like personally. Having said that, Bill Ruprecht is actually an effective CEO for the company - his job might as well be described as "chief of cat herding" - and he is riding a very wild horse at the moment between the hedge-funders at the gate who truly have no idea how the art world works; the older, now-senior generation of specialists who genuinely have no clue how businesses are run and who may or may not be plotting 'palace intrigues' against him; and the other members of senior management, who unfortunately also have no clue how businesses are run. The key is to hold those senior managers accountable, part ways amicably, and move the business forward, but Ruprecht isn't in a position to do it as he currently needs their support. No one should expect this to change anytime soon.

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