Issue #210  12/21/2014
Denise Bethel Leaves Sotheby's after 24 Years
Denise Bethel (photo courtesy of Sotheby's)
Denise Bethel (photo courtesy of Sotheby's)

Christopher Mahoney, Senior Vice President and Head of Department for Sotheby’s Photographs reported that Denise Bethel, Chairman of the New York Photographs Department, will be leaving Sotheby’s at the end of 2014. Going forward, she plans to work independently, advising private clients and institutions, lecturing, and writing.

Prior to joining Sotheby’s, Bethel served ten years as Director of the Photographs department and Auctioneer at Swann Galleries' auctions in New York.

Denise Bethel joined Sotheby’s in 1990. Since then, the Photographs Department, under her leadership, transformed the world auction market for photographs, setting nearly every major record. Bethel hammered down the most expensive classic photograph ever sold at auction, The Pond—Moonlight by Edward Steichen, at $2,928,000. Her last auction outing at the recent 175 Masterworks to Celebrate 175 Years of Photography: Property from Joy of Giving Something Foundation, brought in $21.3 million, which is a record for a single-owner collection of photographs sold at auction and even for any type single photographs auction.

During Bethel’s time at Sotheby’s, a number of museums entrusted Sotheby's with photographs from their collections, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the George Eastman House, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, and the Museum of the City of New York.

A frequent lecturer on the history of photography, the photographs market and collecting, Bethel has spoken at a range of major institutions, including Harvard University, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington and in London, the International Center of Photography, and the George Eastman House, amongst many others. A noted scholar and writer, she has published numerous articles on various aspects of photography.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hollins College, Virginia, and a Master of Arts degree with Distinction from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.

Mahoney notes, "Our record of outstanding single-owner sales and individual artists’ records are too long to include here, but suffice it to say that Denise has been at the podium for every single one of them.

"I have worked as a team with Denise for two decades and will continue as Head of the Photographs Department in New York. Please join me in wishing Denise the best for this next stage in her career. We look forward to working with her as a colleague and friend in the future. "