Is Phillips de Pury Avoiding a Sotheby’s Scandal?

The economy is failing again, but hey, at least last month’s job growth numbers were decent. For every relatively positive step the economy’s taking, something else comes rushing along to push back any substantive growth. The deluge of dismal – and favorable – economic news shows up in this week’s art news; look no further than the Upper East Side. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s receiving a record-breaking number of visitors to Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty at the same time that Sotheby’s has shut out its art handlers. Sotheby’s needs to come through with Teamsters Local 814’s more than reasonable requests, given the value placed on the multi-million dollar artworks their employees manage on a daily basis.

Even so, there could be more trouble looming for art world unions. Looking at this NYFA job posting placed by Phillips de Pury & Co. for part-time/temporary art handler positions just a few days after the eruption of Sotheby’s union ordeal, it appears there’s another auction house not wanting to deal with a full-time art handler staff.

Art world secret: A number of museums don’t even have unions. This shouldn’t be a surprise given the long-standing assumption that all museum jobs are white collar; it’s just another tacit secret of the art world.


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