Alexander Bell, Joint International Department Head, Co-Chairman Worldwide of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department, joined Sotheby’s in 1986 from Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he studied History of Art. He was appointed Head of the Department in 1994 and subsequently oversaw the record-breaking series of sales of Old Masters from the collection of the British Rail Pension Fund in 1995, 1996 and 1997, as well as the sale of the Bentinck Thyssen collection in 1995 and the collection of works formed by E.W. Fattorini in 1996, 1997, 2003 and 2004.
More recently, Mr Bell has overseen landmark sales from the collection of Dr Gustav Rau (2008) and Mrs Barbara Piasecka Johnson (2009). He has also been involved in some of the most significant private sales of Old Master paintings, including Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks, sold to the National Gallery in London in 2004 for £35 million, the highest ever price for an Old Master achieved in a private sale negotiated by an auction house. Since 1994, when he took over leadership of the department, Sotheby’s has become firmly established as market leader in Old Master Paintings and has now sold a higher value of Old Master Paintings at auction worldwide than any other auction house for each of the last ten years.