Michael Macaulay

  • SVP | Deputy Chairman, Auctioneer, Contemporary Art


Michael Macaulay is Deputy Chairman, Contemporary Art and a leading Auctioneer at Sotheby’s in London. A senior international specialist with longstanding expertise in Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Michael is a trusted advisor to an extensive array of international private collectors, museums and institutions regarding every aspect of consignment, acquisition and collection management.

Having joined Sotheby’s London in 2007, Michael quickly advanced through the roles of writer, researcher, cataloguer and specialist to become Head of Contemporary Art Evening sales. He was based out of Sotheby’s New York for over ten years between 2012 and 2022, where he held a number of senior roles including Senior Vice President, Head of Contemporary Art Evening Auctions and Director of Client Coverage, Global Fine Arts.

He has consequently been closely involved in many of the most successful and celebrated auctions of the past two decades, including the single-owner sales of Damien Hirst, Looking Closely, The Duerckheim Collection, Abstraction Figuration, The Schlumberger Collection, The Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon, The Steven & Ann Ames Collection, The Collection of Mrs. John L. Marion, The Macklowe Collection and The David M. Solinger Collection, among many others. Additionally, he was integral to major Sotheby’s sales benefitting The Serpentine Gallery, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Dia Art Foundation, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Magasin III Museum in Stockholm.

Michael became a licensed auctioneer in 2016 and has since conducted numerous high-profile sales internationally. Most recently these have included four consecutive white-glove auctions of the Contemporary Now series, which together totalled over $150 million. In 2022 he brought the gavel down on 16 artist auction records, including for Virgil Abloh, Lynda Benglis, María Berrío, Adrian Ghenie, Charline von Heyl, Simone Leigh, Jennifer Packer, Christina Quarles, Avery Singer and Matthew Wong. He has also hammered auction records for Sotheby’s Contemporary Day and Curated Auction series (Mark Rothko at $5.5 million and Kerry James Marshall for $7.3 million respectively), as well as for Old Master Drawings by Mantegna ($11.7 million) and Rubens ($8.2 million).

In addition, Michael is a passionate charity auctioneer who has helped raise tens of millions of dollars for a variety of extraordinary causes through his voluntary work. Charities have included amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research), UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund), UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), ADDF (The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation), The Shaquille O'Neal Foundation, DKMS (Bone Marrow Donor Center), ForEverglades, CARE (Children With Special Needs), TCA (Teen Cancer America) and many more. He has also conducted benefit auctions for various distinguished institutions including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Dallas Museum of Art, The Norton Museum of Art Palm Beach, The Aspen Art Museum and The Parrish Art Museum Southampton.

Before joining Sotheby’s, Michael worked in investment banking executive search and was an English teacher in Beijing. He studied fine art at the Charles H. Cecil Studios in Florence and holds a first-class History of Art degree from the Courtauld Institute in London, where he was also awarded the Institute’s prize for his final year dissertation.

Videos featuring Michael Macaulay
The Value of Art | Episode 3: Rarity
The Value of Art | Episode 4: Provenance
The Value of Art | Episode 8: Subject Matter
The Value of Art | Episode 9: Medium

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