Jerry Gogosian Apologizes After Mocking Sotheby’s Auctioneer’s Name

As the May auctions drew to a close this week, Hilde Lynn Helphenstein, the person behind the popular Instagram account Jerry Gogosian, issued an apology for having mispronounced and made fun of a Sotheby’s auctioneer’s name, a move that some at the house decried as inappropriate.

Helphenstein, who regularly critiques the art market, received criticism this week for a video she made as she was live-streaming Sotheby’s “Now” evening sale on Monday. In a clip that has been circulating on social media, Helphenstein jokes about the name of a Sotheby’s auctioneer bidding on behalf of a client.

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“Who would name their child ‘Ashcan’?” Helphenstein says, laughing offscreen. “Asking for a friend. Who would name your child Ashcan? Maybe they are not American, and it means something in a different language.”

Helphenstein was referring to was Ashkan Baghestani, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art day sales in the Middle East. “I’m Ashkan, do you feel good about yourself posting xenophobia, intensive and hate speech on your social media account?” Baghestani wrote on his Instagram Story. “Maybe travel more and educate yourself on the beauty of Persian culture.”

The post was reshared by several people from the auction house, with some tagging Helphenstein and saying the comments were inappropriate.

Following the negative response, Helphenstein issued a statement apologizing for the comment. “I take full responsibility for making an offhand comment about a name I was unfamiliar with, and made a joke in poor taste,” she wrote in an Instagram Story. “I have apologized directly to the person, and I have also been in dialogue with every single person who has posted today that I am a xenophobic, bitter Karen who posts hate speech.”

“I acknowledge your apology,” Baghestani said in an Instagram Story of his own. “I’m proud of my name and my culture. I am a second generation immigrant born and raised in Switzerland and you are often mocked for my ethnicity. Without my background I wouldn’t be where I am today. I was disappointed that someone with a platform like yours would make these kinds of comments. I appreciate your commitment to mindfulness and respect for others going forward… we live and learn, no ill feelings and apologies accepted, love and light.”

Baghestani did not respond to a request for comment. Sotheby’s declined to comment.

Helphenstein’s Jerry Gogosian account currently has 138,000 followers. She also runs a podcast and a newsletter, and has in the past collaborated with auction houses such as Sotheby’s. For Sotheby’s, in 2022, she curated a show titledJerry Gogosian’s Suggested Followers: How the Algorithm Is Always Right. Helphenstein recently returned to school as an MBA student at NYU’s Stern School of Business. But in February, she announced that she would put school on hold because she had signed with the LA-based talent agency UTA.

Source: artnews.com

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