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: What captures my eye is I truly feel that I am most touched by work that has some sort of connection to nature. It is about the biomorphic – even zoomorphic if you wanna be fanciful – tendencies of a certain piece. And I’ve always found that I am less of a hardcore modernist and more of an organic surrealist modernist in terms of my own taste, and my own passion, and what I go for. And when I’m trying to develop new areas of a market with my team . . . When we’re kind of saying, “You know something this Danish cabinet maker – there’s only been two of his works that have appeared in America. Wouldn’t it be great to like talk to some folks and see if we can find more of his work and bring it out?” It always seems to fall into that organic kind of aura for me. You know you definitely mind certain fields more and more.
Recorded on: 1/30/08