James Zemaitis began his auction career in 1996 at Christie's, where he worked for three years in the 20th Century Design department. Prior to his arrival at Sotheby's in 2003, Mr. Zemaitis organized a series of groundbreaking sales at Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg, where he was Worldwide Head of 20th-21st Century Design.
From his record-breaking $21.5 million sale total in December 2003 and the landmark sale of the Farnsworth House by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to the National Trust, to our December 2006 offering of New Life for the Noble Tree: The Dr. Arthur & Evelyn Krosnick Collection of Masterworks by George Nakashima, Sotheby's has raised the market to new heights, commanded extraordinary attention from the press and attracted a host of new collectors.
In the past five years, Mr. Zemaitis has been profiled in The New York Times and The New York Times Magazine, House & Garden, Art & Auction, Wallpaper and Cargo. In May 2006, he was voted "one of the 200 most influential New Yorkers" in New York magazine. Mr. Zemaitis serves on the Boards of The Wolfsonian, Miami Beach, and Manitoga: The Russel Wright Design Center, Garrison, New York.
Mr. Zemaitis received a B.A. in Art History from Oberlin College. He pursued graduate work in American Architectural History at Rutgers University.
James Zemaitis I think that design gets almost more respect than it deserves in the current kind of journalistic climate. I find that what’s fascinating is that again, to put it from a market perspective, I think that design probably gets more page coverage, more printed word matter per week, per month, in the New York Times and in other major media outlets than practically any other aspect of the art market; with the exception of contemporary art and the big blue chip ticket impressionist art market. Compared to other areas of decorative arts, design is constantly being written about. I feel as though everything else in decorative arts get consigned to the antiques column of, you know, once a week appearing in the New York Times; or you know the “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS. It becomes more about, “My grandma found this great table. What’s it worth?” But design, you know it’s so much more covered really.
Recorded on: 1/30/08