Job Envy: Lesley Poggemoeller

 In Culture, Interviews

Fine Arts Appraiser, Ivey-Selkirk Auctioneers


Spending your days surrounded by beautiful things is hardly a bad gig. As a fine arts appraiser for one
of the most prestigious auction houses in town, Lesley Poggemoeller works among impressive and ever-changing collections of artwork, using her passion for and knowledge of fine art to determine the fates of family treasures and obscure finds alike. There’s no telling where her brilliant mind and uncompromising taste will take her next.

HOW SHE GOT INTO THE BIZ Art has always been a huge part of my life. It wasn’t until graduate school that I decided I wanted to become involved in auctions, so I set myself on a path that led me to Ivey-Selkirk. I got my foot in the door by working as a traveling estate appraiser for two years—a time I like to refer to as grad school 2.0. I joined Ivey-Selkirk at the beginning of 2013.

EDUCATION/TRAINING I have a BA in art history from Webster University and graduate education
in art history from UMKC.

BEST WORK DAY EVER Auction day. It’s the moment of truth for all your hard work. Watching a work you’ve grown attached to go up for sale is such a great feeling. You can research and predict sales outcomes, but the buyers in the room, on the phone or online ultimately decide what the final sale price will be for an item. It’s the most exciting aspect of my job.

WHY HER JOB ROCKS I get to work with art all day, every day.

TYPICAL DAY I have all manner of art come my way. Estate sale finds, treasured collections and inherited pieces all find their way into our office. I then research the work and relay the sales results and auction estimates back to the client. But they’re not all hidden treasures like you see on TV, and delivering bad news takes finesse. Letting someone know the work their greatgrandmother passed down isn’t actually worth anything takes some refined bedside manner.

PROUDEST MOMENT Attending my first gallery auction as an Ivey-Selkirk employee.

BEST JOB PERK With all the art that comes through, the fine arts office is the best secret gallery in St. Louis. Working in the auction setting, you get to have a much more hands-on relationship with art. Academia rarely offers that sort of day-to-day contact with artwork. Favorite industry anecdote I wish I could say at least one of the calls I’ve received about a Renoir or Monet found at Goodwill had a happy
ending! But occasionally, hidden treasures do exist. I once had a client bring in a lithograph that she was previously told was worth less than $100, and we sold it for her for over $10,000.

ONE THING PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO LEARN There’s a lot of research that goes into
auction appraisals. It’s not always like what you see on TV.

BEST THING ABOUT ART IN ST. LOUIS People here don’t really have huge egos. The people
in the arts community in St. Louis are well connected but still very down-to-earth.

BIGGEST ART WORLD PET PEEVE When people look at art and say, “I could do that.”

GOALS FOR THE FUTURE A television show, obviously.



Job Envy: Lesley Poggemoeller


Photo credit: Attilio D’Agostino

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