Lydia Fenet’s impressive 15-year career at Christie’s auction house, as well as being an in-demand auctioneer and fundraiser for various non-profits, led to Gotham Magazine naming her ‘one of New York's most influential women’. We learned how Lydia, who started out as an intern at Christie’s, launched her brainchild – the Christie’s Strategic Partnerships program – that she now globally spearheads, while helping to raise millions for the Clinton Foundation, amfAR, the Joyful Heart Foundation, and others.
What is your role at Christie’s?
My role is as International Director of Strategic Partnerships, Senior Vice President. In this role I oversee the Strategic Partnerships department which leverages access to the Christie’s brand, specialists and digital assets with other companies. My department works with Christie’s auction and Private Sales property to create mutually beneficial partnerships that provides access to a new client base, enhances our brand image and creates new client engagement opportunities for Christie’s and our partners.
How did you get your start in the industry and what’s been your path to the position you currently have?
My first internship at Christie’s took place between my junior and senior year in college. I was hooked! I applied for a full time position right after graduation and was hired into the Special Events team. I worked in Special Events for five years and was promoted to Head of the Department when I was 26. As I was closing in on my 30th birthday, I decided I was ready for a new challenge and presented a business plan for a new department called Strategic Partnerships. The department is in its fifth year.
What have been some of the highlights of your career thus far?
My career highlight thus far was working on the sale of the Collection of Elizabeth Taylor. It was incredible to be part of such a global effort—I felt so proud to work for such an amazing company. On the evening of the sale, I was surrounded by colleagues from Russia, the Middle East, India, South America all phone bidding with clients in different languages. It was definitely a “pinch me” moment.
You also do auctioneer work – how did this come about?
I tried out to be an auctioneer in my second year at Christie’s and passed. I was so eager to take auctions that I would agree to take any auction/anywhere. 13 years later I still love getting on stage and coaxing bids out of people.
What are some of your current projects that you’re excited about?
Christie’s turns 250 years next year and we are in the midst of creating a year-long campaign aimed at celebrating the legacy of the brand while also highlighting how the auction market has changed so drastically since James Christie held his first auction in 1766.
What is the best part about the work you do?
No day is ever the same! We endeavor to make each Strategic Partnership completely customized to our partner which means that we never replicate an exhibition, event or marketing campaign. My days are spent in a constant state of brainstorming either with our specialists or partners. In addition, I spend a number of evenings out taking charity auctions which means that any down time spent on the subway or in a taxi is spent rehearsing lots to go on stage. The most important thing in my life is ensuring that I spend quality time with my kids so I always go home and put them do bed between work and evening activities. The days definitely fly by!
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