On Monday, New York auction house Swann Galleries announced it has appointed both Nigel Freeman, head of the African American art department and Rick Stattler, director of the books and manuscripts department as vice presidents; Alexandra Mann-Nelson has been promoted from director of communications to chief marketing officer.
In a statement, Swann said the promotions follow recent growth at the auction house, coinciding with an expansion of their fine art offerings and the addition of a modern and contemporary art department, headed by Harold Porcher, announced in February. Swann President, Nicholas D. Lowry confirmed the appointments mark a shift for Swann, as the house “begin[s] to slowly broaden [its] focus to embrace new areas of interest.”
Both Freeman and Stattler will remain in their respective departmental positions. In their new positions, they will support the further growth of the auction house at-large.
“Auction houses are in a state of transition amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but Swann’s ability to remain agile throughout the past tumultuous year has been heartening,” said Mann-Nelson, who has served as director of Swann’s communication department since 2015, in a statement.
Since 2007, Nigel Freeman has led Swann’s African American Art department through various milestones, laying the foundation for an increasingly active auction market for artists represented in the category. In April 2018, Freeman led the department to a $4.5 million total, double the $2.4 million result for the inaugural sale in 2007— realizing Swann’s highest sale result that year. Freeman also brought in the sales of Dr. Maya Angelou and most recently, the Johnson Publishing Company sale in January, along with new record prices for Elizabeth Catlett, Richmond Barthé and Carrie Mae Weems among others in recent seasons.
Rick Stattler has served as the director of the printed books and manuscript Americana since 2007, and is a specialist for Swann’s Americana sales. In the books department, Stattler has led sales of major collections, including Revolutionary War letters, archives relating to slavery and the Underground Railroad, American Indian photographs and presidential manuscripts. Previously, he served as a manuscript curator and library director at the Rhode Island Historical Society, and an archivist at Harvard’s Houghton Library.
“It’s exceptionally rewarding to help steward the next phases of the business as we develop new technologies and ways of reaching collectors, and see important collections on the horizon,” added Mann-Nelson.