Charlie Adamski Caulkins is Vice President and Head of Sotheby's Dallas office, one of many expert regional teams operating around the world. We sat down with Charlie to discuss her love of art, favorite museums in Dallas and the thrill of sourcing the perfect object for clients.
How did you get started at Sotheby’s?
In the summer of 2018, I was hired to lead the Dallas office and re-establish Sotheby’s presence in the region. Previously, I had more than a decade of experience as a Post-War and Contemporary Art Specialist at Christie’s, in both their New York and San Francisco offices. I am thrilled to be in this role where I can utilize my art historical knowledge and extensive auction experience while actively working with colleagues across categories. In my role, I advise clients on their buying, selling and collection management efforts, whether for Contemporary art, jewelry, watches, Impressionist and Modern art, wine, Old Master Paintings, Chinese works of art or any categories we conduct business in.
How did you get interested in art?
I was very fortunate to grow up with parents who made a lot of effort to introduce my siblings and me to art museums and culture all over the world. This continuous exposure instilled a deep appreciation and passion for the arts, which led me to major in art history in college, study abroad in London through a Sotheby’s Institute of Art program and ultimately hold my first art world internship at the Neue Galerie in New York. My experience with Sotheby’s Institute in London and with the incredible team at the Neue Galerie solidified my desire to pursue a career in the business of art – and the rest is history!
What’s one of your most defining moments at Sotheby’s?
In the past two years, many exciting consignments have originated out of the Dallas Fort Worth region, including Lumières: the Levy Family Collection, Brilliant Burgundy from the Magnificent Cellar of Marcus D. Hiles and Highly Important Jewels from the Collection of Nanetta Burton Carter. I am particularly thrilled to announce two Texas Collections to be offered in upcoming sales: The Roger and Carolyn Horchow Collection, Dallas as well as A Grand Vision: The David H. Arrington Collection of Ansel Adams Masterworks. Yet, perhaps the most rewarding moment was the first local client with whom I built a meaningful and trusting relationship in Dallas by tracking down the painting they had been looking to acquire privately. Delivering for a client, especially a new one, is always fulfilling and gratifying for me, and I look forward to continuing to build my network in Texas.
“Perhaps the most rewarding moment was the first local client with whom I built a meaningful and trusting relationship in Dallas by tracking down the painting they had been looking to acquire privately.”
How does your office work directly with clients?
Whether it is guiding someone through the process of buying or selling in our 70 categories – either through auction or private sale – or advising on appraisal needs, my office works directly with clients in the Dallas Fort Worth area and beyond. We can help find a specific painting by Andy Warhol, sell your Patek Philippe timepiece, or secure a loan against your collection. The regional office is fully connected to and integrated with our colleagues globally. Let us work across categories on your behalf and guide you through your experience with Sotheby’s – we are just a phone call away. With safety measures from the pandemic in place, there is of course less frequent in-person contact with clients, but visits are taking place and we are problem solving with video conferencing and digital communication.
What’s a recent accomplishment of your local office?
In the Fine and Decorative Asian Art Online sale on 29 June, we presented a life-size polychrome-painted wood sculpture of a Guanyin. The sculpture was a last-minute addition to a consignment from the Dallas estate of renowned Asian art collector, John R. Young, estimated at $20,000–30,000. We were delighted when after a fierce bidding war, it brought an astounding $1,340,000. This result was a powerful indicator of the reach of our online platform – particularly during these uncertain and distanced times – and the best kind of call you can make to a consignor.
What’s happening in the local art world right now?
It is exciting that our local museums and galleries have been able to re-open to the public with appropriate safety measures in place. I’m thankful our local art world has been busy problem solving and providing virtual content since we went into lockdown. Starting with the Dallas Art Fair – which quickly pivoted to an online marketplace and continues to present work from primarily local galleries on its platform Culture Place. I have also virtually attended chats with curators at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and have thoroughly enjoyed the exhibitions mounted by the Nasher Sculpture Center in their street-front galleries. In Texas, we are fortunate to have a locally-focused visual arts magazine called Glasstire which has been an excellent resource for what is currently happening in the arts in Texas. Another arts publication, Patron, has added a “Virtually Open” section on their website outlining events that can be experienced remotely. In the current moment, it seems that the multifaceted (virtual and in-person) approach to programming is here to stay. It goes without saying that the community is not the same without the energy around in-person art events and we are all looking forward to fully getting back to those hopefully in the coming months.
How can new clients in your area get started with Sotheby’s? What advice do you have?
New clients in the area can get started with Sotheby’s by reaching out to me, sharing their interests, and being added to our mailing list. This way they can be kept up to date on upcoming auctions as well as any virtual programming or in-person local events (hopefully coming back soon!). For new collectors, browsing our auctions is the best way to start building interests and tastes. I am always available to discuss your interests and help track down that special item you have been looking for.