A week in the life of… David Bennett, worldwide chairman, Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division

Bennett details some of the work that goes on behind the scenes at the famous auction house

Sunday

I spend the first part of my day with my family. I am gearing up for a busy week ahead, but for those around me in Geneva it is the weekend, so we enjoy an early lunch down by the lake. In the afternoon I pack and prepare to fly to New York, where we will be holding our regular auction of magnificent jewels on Tuesday. My work involves a lot of travelling – for example, within the past couple of months I’ve also been to Dubai and twice to Hong Kong. I try to get some rest on the flight, as I will arrive with a long list of collectors to meet before the sale. In the evening, I meet with a client for dinner.

Monday

Soaking up the energy of New York City as the week gets underway, I meet with the jewellery division team to prepare for tomorrow’s sale. With just 24 hours to go, we work to make sure that everything is in place for the auction. This can mean anything from following up with clients who have visited our pre-sale exhibitions to collectors who plan to bid by telephone and catching up with colleagues from our global offices who have been receiving enquiries about the sale from their clients. It is the last day of the pre-sale exhibition and members of the public can come to admire and try on pieces from the sale. I meet with several reporters to answer their questions and show clients some of the highlights from our upcoming auction. In the evening, I meet up with a film producer friend for dinner in Greenwich Village.

Tuesday

The auction begins at 10am so I am in the office early to make sure everything is ready and to support the team. I divide my time between the sales room, phone calls with clients and meetings with collectors who have come to bid in the sale. The sale, which lasts all day and into the evening, is the culmination of months of work for the whole jewellery team and so we wind down together in the evening, let the adrenaline of the auction room wear off and celebrate the results.

Wednesday

Today I fly back to Geneva. I am rarely bored when I travel – if there is any downtime I always carry my Kindle with me so I can get some reading in when I have the chance. After landing in Geneva, I catch up with members of my team who are working to plan our upcoming sale in May, which will be held for the first time in the Mandarin Oriental, Geneva. I head to bed early, hoping to shake off a little jetlag.

Thursday

Back in Geneva, I head to the city’s Freeport facility to meet a collector who has asked me to take a look at some jewellery in their collection. This is one of the most exciting parts of my job – you never know what you will find when you arrive at the appointment, and it’s a little like a treasure hunt. For lunch I meet a key journalist who regularly covers our Geneva sale, to talk through the highlights coming up in a few weeks. Back in the office in the afternoon, I have a telephone interview with a journalist based in Dubai. She is writing a broad article so we discuss the market, trends in the region and Sotheby’s new office in Dubai, which was opened in March. After a few telephone calls with clients, I leave for home and an evening cycle ride along the lakeside for some exercise.

Friday

I start the day with Pilates, which I find is a wonderful way to look after both physical and mental health. My second appointment is at a bank, where we are taken to the vault to have a look at two lovely rubies. The collector who owns them hasn’t yet decided if they wish to sell, but we talk a little about the stones and their potential at auction. The afternoon is busy with phone calls and meetings with clients. I end the day with my weekly catch-up with our international division director for jewellery and watches, to debrief about the New York sale and talk through various challenges and opportunities ahead of the next sale in Geneva. I then drive up to Gstaad for the night, where we have an apartment. It is wonderful to be able to head into the mountains within a few hours of the city.

Saturday

Waking up in the fresh air of the Alps, we head out for a long hike around Lauenen Lake. Later in the day, there are a few phone calls with collectors, to discuss certain lots coming up in the Geneva sale. In the evening we join a few friends for a traditional cheese fondue.

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