Life lessons: Isabelle de La Bruyère

The director of Christie’s Middle East shares her wisdom with M magazine.

Isabelle de La Bruyère at her home in the Trade Centre apartments.
Powered by automated translation

Isabelle de La Bruyère is the director of Christie’s Middle East and has worked for the international auction house since 1997. She is helping to stage the Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art auction at Emirates Towers hotel starting on October 25.

1. Keep an open mind.

Ten years ago, I never thought I would be where I am today. Moving to the Middle East was a big decision but I took on the challenge as very few things in life are unchangeable. My job takes me all over the world and I have discovered new places and met people who would not have appeared in my life otherwise. I have learnt so much since moving to this region and I feel part of something that is growing day by day.

2. Listen first, talk later.

I don't think any of us listens enough - at work or with our friends and family. It is a great attribute and when you meet someone, especially the wise and truly knowledgeable, often they are the ones who talk the least. In my job I have to understand what a collector desires, their end goal and what inspires them in a work of art. I am also fortunate to meet some of the artists whose work we sell at auction, and to see an object through the eyes of its creator gives you a fascinating new vision of art.

3. Chase the object, not the artist.

One is too often distracted by a name rather than looking at the quality of an object.A colleague gave me this important piece of advice years ago and I always keep this in mind when looking at art.

4. Never be afraid to ask.

In my job, you cannever know everything. We are selling in 80 categories and being an expert in all is just impossible. So you need to ask the right questions to familiarise yourself with a certain object, period or artist. I constantly ask questions and find that the most knowledgeable people are often only too happy to share their passion.

5. Work hard but take time to look around.

The best and worst thing about my job is the travelling. I try when I can to steal some time back, to visit a museum, to discover a part of the city that others might miss, or to visit old friends. Engulfed by our daily lives, we too often forget to enjoy the moment.

As told to Tahira Yaqoob