Farewell to a Friend

Michael Jefferson leaves Wright

After 18 years Michael Jefferson is leaving Wright. The news came as a complete surprise. We had recently had our best auction in many years and have a strong fall season planned. As always, Michael was deeply involved.

Michael Jefferson. Photo by Wright

Michael was my first real hire at Wright. He was working at the famed Prairie Avenue bookshop and asked for a job shortly after our first auction. He missed working the second auction for his honeymoon but there were few, if any, others for which he was not present in the subsequent near-two decade term. Michael and I worked hand in hand building over 150 auctions together: selecting, marketing and selling tens of thousands of items. I have watched Michael grow professionally and personally. We have shared births, deaths, a fire in our warehouse and survived the great recession. I learned a lot through collaborating with Michael, but the biggest lesson was the power of trusting him and letting go. Michael always deserved that trust.

Left: Michael Jefferson hugging a large vessel by Leza McVey on the cover of Wright’s Modern Design catalog, March 2002. Right: The Wright team in 2006 (Michael back row center and Richard on the right) in Masanori Umeda’s Tawaraya (Boxing Ring, 1981). Photos by Wright

Michael is leaving to pursue a career at Christie’s, the renowned auction house owned by Francois Pinault. As the CEO of Kering, Pinault has overseen the consolidation of the fashion industry. Big brands, like the mega-galleries and auction houses, increasingly control the top artists and clientele. It is my sense that the art and design world is in danger of losing its distinctiveness. I strive to be able to compete with multi-national corporations which is no small pressure for an independent business. I believe the unique nature of our industry should give opportunity to a wide array of businesses. Collectively we represent something special. Wright will continue to be an independent voice and a special part of this world, but today it got a bit harder. I personally wish Michael all the best as he starts this next chapter of his professional life.

Oh, we are also hiring if you know of anybody!