Sarah R. Nelson is Bonhams Specialist of Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary Art in San Francisco. She joined the company in 2011.
She has more than ten years of experience in the field of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art at major international auction houses, based in New York and London.
Prior to her position at Bonhams, Nelson collaborated with a five star international hotel group where she valued the art collections for 16 properties nationally. Before that, she served as an independent Art Consultant, specialising in European and American art of the late 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. She began her career in the Impressionist & Modern Art department at a New York auction house, where she worked on evening sales and was responsible for securing numerous museum loans. For this work, she was recognised in the exhibition catalogue Picasso et les femmes at Chemnitz, Germany.
After completing a master's degree in London, Nelson joined a London-based auction house to catalogue and research Impressionist & Modern works on paper sales. She was later promoted to the Contemporary Art Department, where she worked as a Specialist on evening auctions, with an interest in Post War American Art. Working both in New York and London, Nelson participated in the rapidly evolving contemporary art market and was involved in building the emerging markets category with landmark auctions such as Damien Hirst's Beautiful Inside My Head Forever. Nelson was responsible for writing numerous essays for the evening sale catalogue, advising collectors on new acquisitions, valuing extensive collections, sourcing works of art for sale and presenting lectures at various cultural institutions. During her tenure at these auction houses, she saw the highest total for any sale of Contemporary Art ever held in Europe, achieving eleven artist records including Bridget Riley, Richard Prince, Anish Kapoor and Antony Gormley.
Nelson holds an MA in The History of Art from Richmond University, London and a BA in Art History and French from Rollins College. She received a distinction on her thesis, The Poetics of Modern Space: James Tissot, which explores new spaces of modernity through the lens of the 19th century French painter James Tissot. Nelson also studied 20th century European Art History at The American University of Paris, and most recently, has studied International Marketing in context of the art world at Harvard University, Cambridge. She holds both US and Australian citizenship.