Emily Sarokin may not have completely understood how a major auction house worked when she joined Christie’s New York six years ago.
“I thought it was ‘Antiques Roadshow,’” Ms. Sarokin, the vice president and director for gallery operations and client services, said in an interview at the Rockefeller Center gallery, laughing at herself as she prepared for the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art auction in mid-September. “I had no idea.”
She knows now that it is “an immense machine.” In 2016, there were 84 sales and more than 100 exhibitions at Christie’s New York location alone. They involved art and other precious goods worth about 1.5 billion pounds. That is almost $2 billion (but employees tend to think in British currency because the head office is in London, where the company was founded in 1766).
The number of details involved in creating any one of those events in 57,000 square feet of Midtown exhibition space is complicated. Ms. Sarokin, 29, described working intensely and constantly with shippers, contractors, riggers, lawyers and (of course) the art handlers.
A thousand decisions, visions and revisions are involved: What humidity level does this piece require? How long will that shipment take to get through customs in Hong Kong? What do we do when a client calls and says, “I’m in town, I have 30 minutes before lunch, and I want to see this $30 million painting”?