David Macdonald

  • Senior Director | Senior Specialist | English Furniture | Single Owner Sales and Head of Scotland

David’s journey into the art world was just after university and as an auction house porter, this first job meant he was exposed to beautiful works of art across many departments and the cut and thrust of a busy international saleroom. He joined Sotheby’s in 2001 where he was submerged into cataloguing early British furniture and folk art at the former Olympia saleroom in West London (this field is still one of his great loves). In 2005 he moved to New Bond Street and was tutored by an experienced group of luminaries with decades of experience, it was incredibly rewarding and excitingly he was able to see world class museum quality objects.

In the last twelve years David has worked almost exclusively on ‘Single Owner Collections’. This privileged journey started with our 2010 Chatsworth House Attic sale held in Derbyshire. Exploring glorious Chatsworth and the multitude of treasures in the collection was incredible, but finding architectural elements dating to the 1730s from a long, lost Devonshire Palace was a career highlight. He cares deeply about our Single Owner projects as they are so very personal in that they are usually biographical and paint, through the items Sotheby’s are able to handle, an intimate portrait of the individual or individuals who built a particular collection. Telling a story through objects gives him great joy and is a truly unique privilege. He has held Winston Churchills despatch box, Lord Nelson’s teapot, Vivien Leigh’s script for Gone with the Wind, Al Capone’s cocktail shaker and even Marylin Monroe’s picnic basket amongst many other diverse attractions! Exploring the attics and stores of great houses presents endless possibilities. His torchlight has fallen across a rare indigenous American chief’s 19th century robes (found behind some heating pipes), glorious 17th century portraits of Turkish Sultans (which went on to sell for over 1million pounds) and a rare Renaissance jewel, all of which are among many memorable and exciting highlights. This Scottish enamelled jewel is now held in the National Museums of Scotland and he has been fortunate to see a few of his discoveries appear at some of the greatest museums in the world. Meeting and getting to know clients and sharing stories and successes with them is special. This has happened in some memorable places, from exquisite State Rooms and gilded halls to numerous attics, bank vaults, castles, towers, penthouses, chalets and even on the roof of an Italian Palazzo (where the bells of Florence rung out below), wherever this shared experience happens it does not matter, as it is always an adventure.

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