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5 Extraordinary Women in the Art World

Here are five successful women who have and are shaping the art world. Following their passion for art throughout their professional career - decades-long for some, burgeoning for others - they have made their mark as auctioneers, gallery owners, writers, and entrepreneurs in a challenging, but rewarding environment. Discover five of them, and learn more about how their passion brought them where they are today.

Amy Cappellazzo

Even before she spoke at Sotheby’s Institute’s first panel that focused on women leaders in the art market in New York in September 2016, Amy Cappellazzo has been on our radar of powerful women to watch in the art market.

Cappellazzo is Chairman of the Fine Arts Division at Sotheby’s; before, she was a founder and principal of Art Agency, Partners, a global art advisory firm acquired by Sotheby’s in January 2016. As an advisor, Amy drew upon 13 years of experience in the art market as a leader in the field of Post-War & Contemporary Art. Amy has overseen the sale of some of the most important collections and works of art of our time, served as a pioneer in private sales and online auctions, and acted as an advisor to numerous families, foundations, and trusts.

Click here to watch the event recorded live on our Facebook Page.

Melanie Gerlis

Since graduating from Sotheby’s Institute in 2006, Melanie Gerlis has been an expert of art market and finance. As the art market columnist for the Financial Times and Editor at Large for The Art Newspaper, she was recently one of the panelists of Bourgeois/Kusama: Women in Art History, a discussion held at Sotheby’s auction house exploring how Louise Bourgeois and Yayoi Kusama opened up new territories for female artistic expression. She also contributed an entry on private museums and the art market in Art Business Today: 20 Key Topics, a collaborative book edited by Professor Jos Hackforth-Jones and published by Lund Humphries in 2016.

Find out more about her career in the art world in our interview where she shares her decision to turn her passion into a career.

Helena Newman

Under the gavel of Sotheby’s auctioneer Helena Newman, Gustav Klimt's exceptional summer landscape Bauerngarten inspired energetic bidding to achieve £48 million on March 1, 2017 - the third most expensive artwork ever sold at auction in Europe in a sale that overall brought in the highest total for any auction ever staged in London.

Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe since July 2016, the 28-year veteran of the auction house said after the historic sale: “Tonight’s outstanding result is a new benchmark for London sales as much as it is a statement on the momentum of the global art market in 2017”. The only woman alongside fellow chairmen Oliver Barker, Mario Tavella, and Philipp Württemberg, Helena Newman has long been at the forefront of the development of the Impressionist & Modern Art market, building extensive contacts with a wide range of international collectors and institutions.

Anna Somers-Cocks

There are few roles Anna Somers-Cocks has not taken on in her life-long career in the art market: founder and editor in chief of The Art Newspaper, curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund, published author in the most prestigious papers, and member of the Advisory Board of Sotheby’s Institute London.

Immersed in the art world from a young age thanks to her grandmother’s collection of Velasquez masterpieces, Somers-Cocks has always aspired to encourage freedom of thought and it has transpired through her contributions to publications among which are The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, the Independent, The New Statesman, and The Art Newspaper. She has lectured at the Metropolitan Museum, New York, National Gallery, London, National Gallery, Washington, Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and more.

Watch our video to find out more about her love for art and amazing professional career

Marisa Bellani

Originally from Guatemala, Marisa Bellani – who specialises in photography – graduated with a master’s degree from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in 2012.

Her career began when she fell in love with a house in Bethnal Green. It came with a “ridiculously small” shop in its garden that she turned into a gallery, now known as Roman Road. “I set up Roman Road with no business plan. Nothing. I just sat down and opened my computer,” she says. The space has since held 22 exhibitions, and represents Antony Cairns and Thomas Mailaender.

We are proud to see Bellani recently listed in Vogue’s 20 Names Of Now: all aged 30 or under young innovators who are redefining their fields.