Leila Dunbar departs Sotheby's to launch consulting/appraisal firm After serving nine years as Sotheby’s Senior Vice President and Director of the Collectibles Department (1999-2008), Leila "Lee" Dunbar has founded Leila Dunbar LLC.
News-Antique.com - Jan 22,2009 - NEW YORK - After serving nine years as Sotheby’s Senior Vice President and Director of the Collectibles Department (1999-2008), Leila "Lee" Dunbar has founded Leila Dunbar LLC, offering consulting, appraisal, auctioneering, lecturing and media services to private clients, auction houses, corporations, media and institutions.
Recent institutional clients include the Baseball Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame, the Ronald Reagan Museum and Library, the Auction Network, and Sotheby’s.
In her nine years at Sotheby’s, Dunbar’s department sold more than $75 million worth of memorabilia via live and online auctions of collectibles, largely in the areas of entertainment memorabilia, sports memorabilia, toys, animation art, comic art and movie posters.
High-profile entertainment highlights included:
Estate of Katharine Hepburn ($6 million)
Estate of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash ($4 million)
Property from the Collection of Cher ($3.5 million)
In sports memorabilia, highlights includes the bat that Babe Ruth used to hit the first home run ever on Grand Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, for $1.25 million, a record for a bat; and the 1919 contract selling Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees for $996,000, a record for a sports contract.
Dunbar has appeared on and/or contributed expertise to hundreds of news outlets, including USA Today, The TODAY Show, Good Morning America, CNN, the New York Times, MSNBC and ESPN. In the past year she has provided color commentary on the Auction Network, for sales including the Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne Collection, The Music Cares Grammy Auction, the Music Rising Auction, the Bob Hope Estate and the Mary Pickford Estate and will be handling those duties this spring for the Michael Jackson Neverland Collection.
Since its inception in 1996, Dunbar has participated as an appraiser on the PBS television series The Antiques Roadshow, focusing on sports memorabilia, toys and collectibles, appearing in more than 40 segments.
An accomplished writer, Dunbar is the author of three collectibles reference books: Motorcycle Collectibles (1996), More Motorcycle Collectibles (1997) and Automobilia (1998). She has written extensively in the field, including articles in Collector’s Eye, Collectors’ Showcase, Mobilia, Antique Toy World, The Antiques Roadshow Insider, Old Bike Journal, American Iron and Indian Illustrated.
In 2006 Lee developed an 8-hour workshop, “The Wild and Wacky World of Appraising & Authenticating Sports and Entertainment Memorabilia,” for the International Society of Appraisers (ISA). Lee has presented more than 50 lectures on all types of pop culture and memorabilia, including the keynote speeches for the Appraisers Association of America (AAA, 2004 and 2007) and the ISA 2006 Convention, as well as the Sotheby’s Institute.
In 2001, Dunbar earned her auctioneer’s license and has since taken the podium for the majority of Sotheby’s Collectibles live auctions. She also has served as benefit auctioneer for a number of non-profit organizations and has raised approximately $4 million, particularly for sports, music, women’s, children’s and literacy causes, including the Barbara Bush Children’s Cancer Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation, Musicians On Call, the Suite Dreams Project, the Jimmy V