New Subscriber Profile: Kimberly Pirtle, Sotheby’s AVP and Auctioneer

Kimberly Pirtle

From a very early age, Kimberly Pirtle Gabriel was obsessed with fashion. Her mother loved clothes, and for Christmas, Kimberly’s father always gifted her Mom with an entire, fully matched outfit, usually centered around a suit by St. John.

Both of Kimberly’s parents have an MBA. They always told Kimberly she was a natural-born salesperson and encouraged her to be career-oriented. The Detroit-born 33-year-old graduated from Spelman College with a major in economics and received her MBA from Harvard. She came to NYC (a lifelong dream) and took a job in marketing at American Express. But Kimberly wanted to tap into her creative side, so she went to work at gilt.com. This kickstarted her career in fashion.

Left, Mario Graniel, Kimberly’s former boss from Prada with Kimberly at Fondazione Prada in Milano

From 2018-2022, Kimberly went to work at Prada and Miu Miu in a high-profile client development role. She traveled to Milan and Venice extensively, developed close relationships with Prada’s top clients, and hosted them in their fashion shows and special events. This experience perfectly aligned with Kimberly’s talents and threw her deeper into the fashion world. Looking the part was always a big part of the job, and dressing well was integral to presenting herself best.

Kimberly wearing a dress by Et Ochs

90% of Prada’s top clients work in the arts, and Prada is closely aligned with the arts, so Kimberly’s time there unearthed an appreciation of the arts. In January 2022, Kimberly joined Sotheby’s as AVP of Customer Engagement, where she was responsible for driving new strategies to engage Sotheby’s global clientele through personalized digital communication.

Kimberly wearing a design by Brock Collection – photo by Katherine Pekala

Kimberly is currently AVP, Sotheby’s Collectors Group where she partners with new and established collectors across all of Sotheby’s collecting categories to provide holistic guidance on the acquisition, ongoing collection management and disposition of their collections.

About one year ago, Kimberly added auctioneer to her resume.

“I’ve always thought that the things people succeed in are those things that align with their God-given talents, interests, and curiosities,”

Kimberly Pirtle

Kimberly wearing a Tanya Taylor pantsuit and Manolo Blahnik pumps

Kimberly was at Sotheby’s for two weeks when she received an email announcing an auctioneer class they have every 7 years. Kimberly is smart, poised, fearless, and a natural-born performer. She always had an extroverted, “sales” personality. She was on her way after an intense 4 ½ month training program. “When I had my first auction, I was completely prepared to perform my best. I’m prepared, trained, and have the skills; it’s more about having the confidence and getting up there. There is no fear.”

Left, Brooke Shields, Academy of Art President David Kratz, & Kimberly wearing a dress by Victoria Beckham – Photo by BFA.com

Beyond Sotheby’s, Kimberly donates her time as a charity auctioneer, raising money for charitable causes across the US. She admits that charity auctions, like the New York Academy of Art’s well-known “Take Home a Nude,” which took place in October, are a little “scarier” and more “nerve-racking” because it’s “just really about you.” Kimberly says there is no manual to follow, and you can’t really rehearse or prepare. “But if I look great and my outfit is cute, I’m likelier to do a good job.”

Kimberly Pirtle and Malte Gabriel after their wedding, March 18 2020 photo by Nicoleadrianna.photos

No problem there, as looking great comes naturally to Kimberly, married (husband Malte Gabriel works in tech as a chief product officer) with an adorable 2 1/2-year-old son. When she and her family moved into my building (they live on my floor), it was hard not to notice her.

“Being an auctioneer is a very high profile, demanding job. You’re up on the podium, so you need to look your best.”

Kimberly Pirtle

Wolfgang Gabriel, Malte Gabriel, Kimberly Pirtle Gabriel

Kimberly, who is 8 months pregnant with her second child, says she could wear regular clothes for the first 5 months. Currently, Kimberly wears many of Victoria Beckham’s minimal, colorful, and flattering dresses.

Kimberly wearing her Prada blazer, Prada handbag, Norma Kamali bodysuit and Bottega Veneta boots

She also loves dresses by Et Ochs, Tanya Taylor, and A.W.A.K.E. MODE. Because Kimberly likes to look business-like, she also relies on her oversized blazers from Prada and Dries Van Noten, which she pairs with Norma Kamali bodysuits and a wardrobe of boots, many from Bottega Veneta and Lanvin. Naturally, Kimberly has a treasure trove of Prada shoes, including numerous iterations of that signature platform.

Kimberly wears a jacket by The Attico, trousers by Jacquemus, & Manolo Blahnik

Her other favorite labels are Manolo Blahnik (Kimberly loves their low-heeled slingbacks, which look great with everything) and Jacquemus. Kimberly especially appreciates their pants, which are cut long.

Kimberly wearing a dress by Rowan Rose

A new brand Kimberly discovered is Rowen Rose, a French luxury ready-to-wear brand designed by Emma Rowen Rose. Established in September 2018 and entirely produced in Italy, the label represents “powerful femininity and “a new elegance.” Kimberly says she is obsessed and promises to buy more designs after she has her baby and slims down.

  1. Thank you for that RF….yes..it’s an ongoing complaint..and it is NOT about looking young..it’s about looking and feeling great and…

  2. So refreshing to see you aging gracefully and looking fabulous! Too many people fixated on looking young instead of appreciating…

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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