Nina Piro 
Assistant Vice President & Specialist, Sotheby's

How did you get into the arts?

I went to high school in New York a few blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and junior year my AP Art History went to the museum every Wednesday afternoon. Having grown up in New York with a short stint in London, I had been exposed to lots of museums but the course completely changed my perspective and I fell in love with Art History and I went on to study it in college as well as French language. I tend to be a one track minded person, and I was just determined to work in the art world. I am extremely lucky that it worked out for me!

Do you find it different from what you expected - how and why, if so?

I was an intern at Sotheby’s in the summer of 2009, so I have really grown up here and overall knew what I was getting myself in for. What still continues to surprise me is how much art is out there, from Park Avenue duplexes to small corners of the world writ large. In the past year I’ve worked on consignments in the six to seven figure range that came from a farmhouse in Vermont, an apartment in Westchester, and a retirement home in Virginia. As ridiculous as it sounds, there really are treasures everywhere waiting to be found.

How did your world fare in covid times? How would you say Sotheby's - or the art world in general - took away or learned from these strange times?

The market exceeded expectations in 2020 and continues to be very strong. I think one take away was the power of technology and that by harnessing it our clients really can buy major works of art sight unseen.

Although you specialize in impressionism, do you like modern art, or other periods and styles as much?

I am a Specialist in Impressionist & Modern Art, which I like to dilute into my elevator pitch of “I do European Art from roughly 1860-1960, so Monet to Picasso.” I worked at Pace Gallery for three years and was a cataloguer at Bonhams in the Contemporary Art Department before I started at Sotheby’s in the Impressionist Department so there are a long list of Contemporary artists I adore. Truth be told, Old Master Paintings generally make me melt. I absolutely adore the work of the Impressionists, especially when viewed from a historical and not just aesthetic lens. It is really important to me to see the artwork that I specialize in and sell as being produced during moments of extreme unrest and change worldwide. At the end of the day, I love the artwork and of course that passion empowers me, but it is important to be objective and not let your opinion effect how you value an artwork. There is a distinctive difference between having an eye that understands what the market wants and purely liking something.

Have you spent time doing any of your own collecting? How do you approach finding the acquiring things you like even if you're younger and have less money and/or space as you might want down the road?

I sadly have not collected much fine art—except for in my early 20s when I bought a few things from artist friends, which I think is the best way to collect when you are younger. It also gives you a chance to support your artistic community. When I was at Pace many of the art handlers were also artists so there was this whole new group of artists and a community I was exposed to in Chelsea and in Brooklyn. I would say that when you’re younger and have less space, just focus on smaller works and things that bring you joy, not works that you feel like you might get rid of in order to upgrade in the future. The best things really do often come in small packages. Do your research—if that means looking at old auction results or calling a gallery for a retail price it is so important to do your diligence! Keep your invoices too. Exhibitions at auction houses are always free and open to the public, and specialists are available to answer any of your questions. 

What are you most looking forward to about motherhood?

I am a highly unsentimental person (to a fault) so my husband will be shocked to hear me say that I am really looking forward to starting new traditions as a family. I don't know what they will be necessarily but I can't wait to establish them. Also just having another piece of Phil (my husband) in the world, being melded with him forever, I am so looking forward to that.

Any fears or concerns?

I am afraid of baby mess, and I hate clutter! If I am being honest, I am super nervous about everything but I am incredibly lucky to have my family close by and an amazing support system.

Do you have a community of new and expecting moms to commune with when the baby comes along?

I am so excited that my best friend from childhood is having a little girl in July. This is her second so I am going to be asking her all sorts of questions. It is amazing that we will have kids even closer in age than we are. It has been so refreshing to see my coworkers in a new light and for them to embrace me as a soon to be new mother in the community. I am looking forward to this adventure with my friends and its an awesome opportunity to reconnect with friends who will have littles who are the same age!

Have you thought about how you might grow or enrich that community?

It took me a long time to conceive, about two and a half years. I never thought I’d actually get to be a part of this community of mothers so I think for me one thing that’s important is keeping the circle around me wide and welcoming while embracing people at different points in their lives. I want our child to be surrounded by lots of friends in addition to family. I quickly found that having a dog opens up New York to you in a totally different way—engaging with people you have nothing in common with except your affinity for canines. I am looking forward to embracing the city and seeing it open up that way with the introduction of children too!

What about raising kid(s) in NYC excites you?

All the different activities to do and things to see! And also experiencing the city through my baby and my sweet husband’s eyes, who grew up in Connecticut. He is so excited to go to museums and tourist sights with our son as he gets older. The other day we were saying how fun it would be to go watch trains at Grand Central station with a little one!

Shop Nina's Look: V Neck Puff Sleeve Dress