Skinner Inc.

Auctioneers and Appraisers

Q & A With Katie Banser-Whittle | Skinner New York Regional Director

What drew you to auction?

I was always a bookish kid drawn towards museums and theater. My career in the arts began during college working at art galleries on Royal Street in New Orleans. Although the experience was gratifying, I had always been interested in furthering my education and curious as to what other opportunities the art world had to offer. While completing my Art History graduate degree in London, I was lucky enough to hold positions at the National Gallery and V&A before moving to New York to work in the American Paintings and Sculpture department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As much as I enjoyed working at these remarkable institutions, I was still anxious to explore other avenues in the arts. My first auction role was in the Musical Instruments department at Christie’s Auction House. It was there I discovered the perfect balance between the business of art galleries and the academics of museums. For me, auction has provided an unparalleled macroscopic view of the art world driven by old fashion connoisseurship.

What do you love most about your job?

The diversity in the clients and their collections is what I get most excited about. No day is the same! As Regional Director in New York, I’m privileged to see a wide variety of material including fine and decorative art, jewelry, wine, musical instruments and several other collectible categories. I travel a lot. I’m often networking, partnering with local women’s groups, estate planning councils, and historical societies for consignment day events, lectures and panel discussions. I visit clients throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut providing a local contact. I strive to provide professional and attentive client service, delivering a positive and pleasant Skinner experience.

What is your favorite local art spot?

Living in New York there is no lack of art venues. Between Museum Mile, the year-long rotation of art fairs and the limitless galleries there is something for everyone. I find it hard to pick just one favorite, but for me, there is something extraordinary about The Frick Collection. The location is a perfect distraction from the city chaos, and the sanctuaries of the gardens never fail to transport me back in time to when I was a little girl reading Frances Hodgson Burnett. Being able to witness these treasures of fine art, furniture and decorative art in a domestic setting is a unique and often emotional experience.

What book are you currently reading?

My book club just finished reading “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. It’s a historical fiction novel about two sisters living in France during World War II. The story focuses on how each woman responds to the horrors of war and navigates their survival while saving the lives of others along the way. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and found Hannah’s ability to portray two very distinctive characters, each heroic, very moving. Their journey was equally terrifying and inspiring.

If not New York City, where would you live?

I have been very fortunate to not only to travel but also to live in some amazing cities across the globe. I could easily see myself making a home in any number of these fabulous places but am probably most drawn to Florence. The combination of history, art, and culture, not to mention the food, is exceptional. I can picture myself spending a day walking the Ponte Vecchio and Boboli Gardens, visiting The Uffizi Gallery, Duomo and Medici Palace, ending with dinner at Zà Zà and gelato from Vivoli.

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