The Art Advisor Is In
If art is your passion, then Kim Heirston is a name to know. Entrée met with her in her Upper East Side town house to talk art
By Ted Loos
Few professionals are confident enough in their abilities to tell you that you probably don’t need their services. Kim Heirston is one of these forthright types. “I’m the first person to say you don’t need an art advisor,” says Heirston, 43, an international advisor based in New York who looks at ease surrounded by the huge, colorful artwork in her town house. But there’s a big if. Heirston continues that you don’t need her “if you have the time and willingness to do the enormous amount of homework that I do with my director, Courtney Higginbotham, and my staff.”
In other words, if you’re serious about buying art, you do need someone like Heirston. She has the knowledge, the experience, and best of all, the eye to turn your walls into a mini museum and your backyard into a sculpture garden. Heirston uses those qualities to get her clients into the inner chambers of the world’s best art galleries. “It’s not just walking into a gallery and seeing a show,” she says, “It’s seeing what’s in the back room and knowing what’s coming down the pike with the artist.”
Though she makes it all look impossibly easy, Heirston still remembers discovering the art world for the first time. Part of her education was accompanying her mother “to see shows in SoHo even before it was really SoHo.” All that culture paid off: Heirston studied art history at Yale, and then worked for two renowned New York galleries, PaceWildenstein and Robert Miller, before becoming director of Stux Gallery at 25.
When clients first arrive in her office, she gets to know their tastes by asking them about their favorite artists and pieces. Then come the field trips, but not necessarily to galleries. “Initially, I like to take clients to museums, where there are no price tags,” she says. She also spends time with the clients in their homes. “The palette and all the surface things influence my decision,” she says, “but there are practical issues too. If there are children, I know we can’t do a delicate installation on the floor.”
Though she showcases some of her favorite works in her own home, she makes sure to note that “a good advisor doesn’t hoard all the best artwork.” Not only is her collection pleasing to the eye, but it is also practical from a financial perspective. “I don’t think investment is a dirty word. I couldn’t sell anything that I didn’t think was going to at least hold its value,” says Heirston. But people who buy art hoping for a quick profit do not please this art professional. “The good dealers, representing the great artists, want the art to find good homes,” she says.
That sentiment says a lot about how she does business. For Heirston and her clients, it’s clear that home is where the art is.