Barbara Guggenheim was there when Vincent van Gogh’s Irises became the most expensive painting ever sold. She was there when Pablo Picasso’s Boy with a Pipe became the first painting to command more than $100 million at auction. She championed Jean-Michel Basquiat when he was a relative unknown painting canvases that would later fetch double-digit millions at auction. She’s seen impressionism’s revival in the marketplace—and its subsequent fall—and the no-holds-barred growth of contemporary art that continues to break records today. She’s endured two major recessions and any number of smaller ones. And she’s still in top form.

Indeed, Guggenheim is the kind of art-world power player you need on speed dial. The art advisor—who has been guiding the collections of VIP clients like Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg since 1980—has seen it all and done it all. Along with her partner, Abigail Asher—with whom she formed the art consultancy firm Guggenheim, Asher, Associates, Inc., in 1987—she provides collectors the kind of expertise and connections they need to chase down that next major acquisition. And she does it always with grace and style, making careful and individualized recommendations and empowering clients to understand what they want out of their collections. “It’s like being a shrink and a scholar all wrapped into one,” she says. In her industry, “being a good listener is a very important skill.”—Sheila Gibson Stoodley Read more