Sotheby's

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Sotheby's Reviews

Updated November 24, 2014
Updated November 24, 2014
41 Reviews
3.1
41 Reviews
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Sotheby's President, CEO, and Director Bill Ruprecht
Bill Ruprecht
19 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    I enjoyed working at Sotheby's as a weekend receptionist.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Receptionist in Lafayette, CA
    Former Employee - Receptionist in Lafayette, CA

    I worked at Sotheby's part-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The work was simple, but taught me about customer service, databases, and real estate. Good time off for lunch. Little supervision so can independently develop my skills.

    Cons

    Not enough hours because I was only working ten a week. There was not a lot of work to do and the main receptionist was very anal about cleanliness.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    None

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    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 an year)

    Pros

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

    Cons

    Very low compensation in the industry

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    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)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    nice place to work if you don't want to make any money and work like a dog

    • 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 8 years)

    Pros

    very social company, lots of young people, company hosts several employ parties during the course of the year. excellent benefits.

    Cons

    low pay for very hard work. they'd rather promote you in title only than pay you overtime. to get ahead, it helps to have a family with an art collection or lots and lots of money.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    nothing said here will matter. they "know" what they're doing.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Excellent opportunities

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

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

    Pros

    unique opportunities, interesting people

    Cons

    High turnover, demanding amount of work

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    More staff development

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  7.  

    Fun environment, low pay

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

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

    Pros

    Great access to art & property, internal initiatives like art talks and seminars provided by upper management, lots of young people

    Cons

    Impossible to get promoted in a specialist department, low pay

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Figure out how to cultivate the admins

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    Great at first, but easily burnt out

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    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 (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    - See great artwork and objects not easily seen elsewhere
    - Work with experts in the fields
    - Good benefits package

    Cons

    - Unless you are in a high up position, pay is minimal for the amount of work you put in
    - Strong personalities that can wear a person down after a while
    - Not always easy to advance up the company ladder
    - In certain positions the work/life balance is more work than life

    Approves of CEO
  9.  

    ok

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Sotheby's

    Pros

    great art to view and learn

    Cons

    pay is low and not appreciated

  10.  

    Lack of opportunities to grow with the company or advance for even the hard-working, dedicated or loyal employee.

    • 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)

    Pros

    Exciting, fast-paced environment working with many smart and talented people.

    Cons

    Expect to work long hours (and weekends) for low pay. Organization lacks the desire to develop young and dedicated staff or provide on-the-job training to those who express an interest.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Invest in your junior staff financially but also by improving existing and developing new skill sets. Junior staff need to be challenged (not by volume) in order to have an incentive to stay committed to the organization.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Revolving door of employees

    • 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

    Pros

    You get exposed to an enormous amount of top-tier art, artists, and collectors. You learn to work hard in a fast paced, demanding company.

    Cons

    Extremely low pay, no transparency in regard to moving up in the company, up to 80-90 hour work weeks, and absolutely no loyalty for their staff.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Show loyalty to your good employees, make growth possibilities more transparent, and use more money for salaries than on the executives' superfluous spending.

    Doesn't Recommend

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