Sotheby's Reviews | Glassdoor

Sotheby's Reviews

Updated July 10, 2017
130 reviews

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3.1
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Sotheby's President and Chief Executive Officer Tad Smith
Tad Smith
26 Ratings

130 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • The opportunity to learn about every aspect of art business and meet with big people in the art world (in 9 reviews)

  • Amazing art exposure with lots of beautiful objects and very knowledgeable colleagues (in 7 reviews)

Cons
  • Very low pay but that's expected in the industry (in 20 reviews)

  • Long hours, unrealistic requirements, some staff less civilised than others (in 11 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Floater Program - Unparalleled Learning Experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    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

    Pros

    Upon graduating from college, I interviewed for and was subsequently hired to join the floater program. This is a unique and exciting opportunity at Sotheby's that allows you to learn about the company and eventually find the department that matches your interests and skill set to the company's needs. In my positive experience as a floater, the first few months allowed me to interact with interesting and eclectic clients as well as learn from highly intelligent and passionate specialists who I am fortunate to call my colleagues. Everyone's timeframe as a floater varies, which goes to say the rate of progression is highly attributed to your dedication and motivation. Sotheby’s provides you with a plethora of resources to utilize, including a very knowledgeable and experienced HR department comprised of individuals who are absolutely happy to help guide you. The instance that most stands out to me is when I expressed my initial concern about the ambiguous nature of the floater program to the hiring manager, who was extremely responsive and personally called me while I was traveling out of the country to offer her insightful and assuring advice. Since then, I’ve found my experience in rising from a floater to securing a full-time position to be nothing but extremely pleasant. After a few months of diligent work and learning the company values, I was successfully hired to fill an assistant position that I believed would allow me to continue growing and learning, and also strategically place me in the correct direction towards my desired career path. In addition to the unbelievably notable artwork that rotates through our galleries, what initially drew me and ultimately happily keeps me here is the extensive and powerful network, both internal and external. Unsurprisingly, the company’s reputation and ability to continually evolve to stay on top of the market is unparalleled, attracting only the best, and therefore lending to an absolutely thrilling time to be a part of the Sotheby’s team.

    Cons

    I would say the two biggest cons of starting as a floater are the lack of formal training and the opacity of the company hierarchy. Due to the nature of the more qualitative work, you are tested by your ability to learn quickly on the job, as well as execute in a professional manner. This can seem daunting at first, but I quickly found that my colleagues are wonderful in regards to always being available to answer any questions.


  2. Helpful (2)

    "Administrator, former Floater"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Administrator in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Administrator in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Access to amazing art
    - Free museum access
    - Some great people

    Cons

    - Extreme passive aggressive management style
    - Specialists are allowed to treat support staff however they want
    - Superiors cannot communicate clearly
    - Job performance measured on hours you're present rather than what work is accomplished
    - Many unspoken rules, petty behavior
    - HR is NOT impartial and will throw employees under the bus at every turn

    I came to this company with an extremely positive outlook, and ended up crying in HR after a month. I was harassed by my peers and by HR for going to vote on election day (which is illegal in NY state). Additionally, my manager pulled me into her office to privately criticize my personality in a manner that was extremely unprofessional and petty. I was also told that I needed to be in the office more, despite working an average of 45-50 hours a week, if not more. I have had these experiences despite being an excellent employee, completing my work in an efficient and accurate manner and being pleasant with all of my colleagues.

    I do not recommend this company if you have any desire for work-life balance or clear communication that will allow you to succeed.

    Advice to Management

    Get in touch with how the support staff is being treated, and get the HR department under control.

  3. "Senior Vice President"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Vice President in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Senior Vice President in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Sotheby's full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Great company for Art lovers

    Cons

    Not for the ones disliking a very competitive culture


  4. "Pros v cons"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Floater in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Floater in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great colleagues, fun environment, interesting atmosphere, access to museums

    Cons

    Elitist culture, long hours are expected, laughable benefits compared to other companies in the same tier, formal dress

    Advice to Management

    Think about giving back more to your employees so that they can do an even better job for you


  5. Helpful (2)

    "Meh."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Floater in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Floater in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Sotheby's (More than a year)

    Pros

    I loved getting to see all of the amazing artwork there.

    Cons

    Corporate culture is the worst nightmare of my life. I left voluntarily because it sucked that bad.

    Advice to Management

    Hire less superficial people.


  6. Helpful (9)

    "Smoke and Mirrors"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Senior Administrator in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Senior Administrator in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Working with elite specialists and close proximity to some of the finest art in the world often unseen in public venues.

    Cons

    It is not a coincidence that the majority of reviews on Sotheby's are entirely positive or entirely negative, with positive reviews often ascribed from senior employees. Recognizing that the art world is a fiercely competitive industry, Sotheby's epitomizes the allegory of standing on the little people to reach success for itself alone, with those on the bottom entirely crushed while those on the top reap the rewards. Though the company relies on the minority of qualified and talented staff who managed to slip between the cracks of nepotism, the majority who wander the halls in Louboutin heels dripping in Chanel are present only because they themselves come from a circle of wealth and influence. Most do no have degrees in art or even prior experience in the industry, but enter the company none-the-less with messiah complexes on the belief that somehow they alone can fix whats broken in the company's constant state of 'adjustment'.

    Unless you work within a smaller specialty department, almost everyone selfishly guards their assets while expecting full disclosure from others. Management at both junior and senior levels predominantly suffers because few seek to bridge divides between departments or individuals, nor does anyone seek to nurture team development. The whole company operates with a "head on fire" mentality, with the top making promises to clients they can't keep, constantly pushing the buck until the greatest load and responsibility falls on the lowest level and most under-compensated individuals - forced to make quick turn arounds that ultimately line the pockets of those back on top.

    The company does not care about you. Your peers do not care about you. Career advancement is near impossible unless daddy's a mark, and at the end of the day, the company only cares about the shareholders success. If the cut-throat nature, chaotic workloads, or abysmal compensation don't beat you down, the total lack of compassion and humanity will.

    Advice to Management

    Promote the people within who literally dedicate their blood, sweat and tears at the bottom for those at the top. The art industry is entirely built on relationships and loyalty, and when you show no loyalty and deny outstretched hands, you lose the most. Promote your support staff. Encourage advancement when it is sought. Facilitate experience when it is deserved. Your employees -not networks- are your biggest assets. Keep them in-house and ever-growing and you will have a competitive edge. Lose them along with the time and resources to train new staff however, and you will always be taking one step forward and two steps back.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Good Place"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Good people, beautiful art work

    Cons

    Salary structure, and upper management

  8. Helpful (3)

    "Floater at Sotheby's"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Floater in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Floater in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I applied to be an intern during the summer after my junior year in college. I had a wonderful interview experience - challenging but enjoyable - and was accepted into the program. After this summer, I was eager to return to Sotheby's. I kept in touch with HR during my senior year and was offered a position as a Floater after graduation. The Floater Program has allowed me to see so many different aspects of the company and become familiar with the different groups, personalities, and types of work at Sotheby's. The HR team has provided me with constructive feedback along the way and helped match me with departments that need my skill set and will simultaneously help me develop professionally.

    Cons

    I think it can be challenging to enter such a fast-paced corporate environment after college. The senior management sets high expectations and demands hard work. Floaters are expected to pick up on this quickly.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to provide feedback! This is incredibly important to the Floaters, and I hope other Floaters receive as much important and constructive feedback as I have.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Great place to work, too much demand"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    The people here are incredibly friendly, open-minded, and really care about what they do. The most exciting part is getting to see what heavy-hitters come up at auction each season, so there's always something new to look forward to.

    Cons

    Pay is low and you're pushed to the bone to get results for upper management and not compensated for "making miracles happen" on a daily basis.


  10. Helpful (3)

    "Undeniable Interesting Experience"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Sotheby's (More than a year)

    Pros

    Unique experiences whether it is with colleagues or clients; won't find it elsewhere except the competition. Management is getting better and is certainly turning things around for the better, from most perspectives. Long legacy, a lot of history behind it, and you'll always have a good story for a dinner party.

    Cons

    Stuck in some old ways (but perhaps new management will finally bring Sotheby's to 2016? And hopefully soon?). A lot of work is done manually, so a lot of unnecessary over time happens. Not everyone that works there understands how the business works, or even how their whole team functions, people get wrapped into their own bubble instead of seeing what is best for the whole company or client. Last, but certainly not least, pay is so incredibly low and they (in certain departments) unfortunately drag their Floaters through a lot and never hire them, when they would instead save time and resources to just hire them instead of getting a new floater and going through training them again. You're better off getting an entry level job elsewhere, then coming to Sotheby's and asking for a bigger number.

    Advice to Management

    Keep your floaters instead of wasting time teaching new ones all of the time. Any and all managers should pay attention to who actually knows what is going on, because a lot of miscommunication and wasted time occurs.


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