President and Founder of Stair Galleries, Colin Stair, spent 15 years with Sotheby’s Restoration, specializing in the fine points of period furniture restoration.
His vast experience included studying with Sotheby’s in London and Billingshurst in the late 1980’s. In London, alongside Graham Child and Christopher Payne in the Furniture Departments, he assisted with the extensive cataloging and research for the famed British Pension Fund auction. The prices realized in that auction resulted in the highest of the time.
His Billingshurst tenure was a disparate facet of his education, exposing Colin to the frenetic pace of planning two to three auctions a month, and understanding how a regional auction house expeditiously processes a large collection for exhibition and auction. In addition, he trained under Leslie Weller, noted English furniture expert.
Under the guidance of his father, John Stair, at Sotheby’s Restoration, Colin became Managing Director and subsequently, a Vice President of the corporation. He oversaw the meticulous repair and maintenance of some of the world’s finest furniture collections, including those of Gordon Getty, Lily Safra, and the late Bradley. In June of 2001, he founded Stair Galleries and Restoration, Inc. He is the fourth generation of the Stair family to specialize in antique furniture, and is the head auctioneer at Stair Galleries.
Mr. Fennell is an independent antiques appraiser and consultant. He conducts appraisals for fair market and insurance purposes for individual clients, trusts and estate representatives and for public and private institutions. He has successfully completed the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), the congressionally recognized set of appraisal standards promulgated by The Appraisal Foundation, and is fully qualified to render an appraisal.
In September of 1998 he retired from Sotheby’s in New York City, where he most recently was Vice President and Senior Decorative Arts appraiser. In his 29 years with Sotheby’s he spent a year in its London office in the English furniture department and 12 years in the Los Angeles branch where he headed up the West Coast division of Sotheby’s Appraisal Company. Prior to joining the auction house he did graduate work in Fine Arts at Syracuse University with a fellowship for study at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Superintendency of Fine Art in Tuscany.
Mr. Fennell’s primary focus is American, English and Continental decorative arts, including furniture, porcelain, glass and textiles, from the late 17th century through the early 20th century. He is also well versed in Asian works of art, collectibles and 20th-century art. Rupert has been affiliated with Stair Galleries since its first auction in October 2001. At Stair he catalogues the decorative arts and wields his gavel as auctioneer. In addition to his appraisal work, Mr. Fennell is a popular lecturer on a broad range of decorative arts topics.
Ms. Thomas joined Stair Galleries in 2013 as a Specialist in the Fine Arts Department. After graduating from Columbia University with a BA in Art History, Ms. Thomas began her career at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC where she was the Executive Assistant to the then-chief curator of the Department of Paintings and Sculpture, Kirk Varnedoe. In this capacity, she worked closely with curators and museum administrators involved in the organization of the Museum’s exhibitions, including Andy Warhol: A Retrospective, Matisse in Morocco and High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture.
Ms. Thomas joined Christie’s as a junior member of the Department of Prints and Illustrated books in 1991 where she would become an Assistant Vice President and then a senior Specialist in charge of Contemporary Prints and Multiples. In addition to overseeing the auctions of contemporary prints, Ms. Thomas was also responsible for the appraisal and sales of Historical American prints.
Ms. Thomas has lectured on American and Contemporary Prints and the Contemporary Print market, and has been a specialist on Antiques Roadshow. In addition to her studies at Columbia, Ms. Thomas received a degree in French from the Sorbonne, and spent a year studying Art History at Reid Hall in Paris. She moved with her family to the Hudson Valley where prior to joining Stair Galleries she has been working as a Real Estate broker involved in the historic renovation of old homes. Ms. Thomas served as a member of the Board of Trustees at Dutchess Day School in Millbrook, NY and is currently a Trustee of the Clinton Historical Society where she also chairs their Landmarks Designation program.
After graduating from Drew University, Ms. Cunningham trained with Christie’s in London in the mid-1980s under the tutelage of Pietro Raffo. She then spent the next 18 years with Sotheby’s New York as a Vice President and Department Head of Continental Furniture, leaving in early 2003 to a private dealership in Salisbury, CT.
While at Sotheby’s, she was integral in bringing in the following collections: Alberto Pinto, Paris; Villa Fiorentina, Cap Ferat, decorated by Billy Baldwin for the Harding Lawrence’s; The Collection of Colasanti-Moore, Rome; The Arne Schlesch Scandinavian Collection, NY; and worked collaboratively on the following estates and collections: The Duke and Duchess of Windsor; Jacqueline K. Onassis; Andy Warhol; Ambassador Pamela Harriman; Greta Garbo; Mrs. Antenor Patino; Chateau du Groussay, France; The Estate of Mrs. John Hay Whitney; The Estate of Gianni Versace, Miami & Milan and The Estate of Sister Parrish, NY.
She lectures widely on European furniture and has been a specialist on the Antiques Roadshow. She most recently worked in the antique retail field in Manhattan with the renowned Doris Leslie Blau and the dynamic Amy Perlin.
She has been a part of the Stair Galleries team since January 2011, and worked on the following collections: Ambassador JV Reed, The Estate of Kitty Mellon, The Collection of Chippy Irvine, and The Estate of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, to name a few.
She has successfully completed the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP); the congressionally recognized set of appraisal standards promulgated by The Appraisal Foundation, and is fully qualified to render an estate or insurance appraisal.
Ms. Mullins is our Financial Manager, as well as our Personnel and Office Manager. She is responsible for all internal financial matters, and consignor accounting, as well as assisting in overseeing the daily operations of Stair Galleries and Restoration. Ms. Mullins previously worked for Sotheby’s Restoration as the liaison with Sotheby’s and the accounts and personnel manager from 1993 to 2001, coming to work for Colin Stair at the inception of Stair Galleries and Restoration in 2001.