Art For Art’s Sake

By Stephen Shoemaker, B.A.’02

Joseph Carlucci, B.A.’99
Making His Mark

Joseph Carlucci

Joseph Carlucci has a reputation for being both dogged and fearless. During the past decade, the head of Sales and Marketing at Crozier, an art-storage and logistics company actively expanding its global reach, has also worked at esteemed auction houses Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips. “My persistence, my lack of fear, and my ability to pick up after getting knocked down to go at it again,” he said, landed him a career in the art industry.

The big knockdown came in 2007 when Carlucci was laid off from Japanese financial-holding company Nomura as the Great Recession settled in. After earning a degree in economics from UAlbany, he’d worked at investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and at Credit Suisse following its acquisition of DLJ. Carlucci subsequently went to Goldman Sachs before accepting the position with Nomura.

The layoff from Nomura coincided with a nagging sense that the long hours invested in his career weren’t meeting Carlucci’s expectations. He had turned 30, “so in my mind this was now or never. If I’m ever going to change careers, now’s my chance.”

Carlucci had recently acquired his first piece of art – a print of an abstract artist’s painting (the print still hangs in his kitchen) – and was hooked. He began to explore the career possibilities of the art industry.

“I must have spent a fortune taking people out for drinks or coffee, just to pick their brains,” Carlucci remembered. He talked with gallery and auction-house employees, people who worked for artists – and artists and aspiring artists.

Despite all their warnings about how emotional a business it could be, or how he wouldn’t make any money, Carlucci realized an auction house might be the ideal place for him.

“I thought I might be a rarity in their world: a guy with finance experience, one who really has an underlying interest in art and actually wants to work there, not just buy from there,” he said.

Perusing job listings on Christie’s website, though, he sensed that none seemed to fit his experience. However, in a “light-bulb moment,” he reasoned, “If I click on this nondescript link for an administrator, it must go somewhere.” Carlucci forwarded an email explaining why he thought his professional experience, combined with his passion for art, made him a good fit for Christie’s. He never expected to hear back.

Several days later, though, Carlucci received an email request to expand on his interest and knowledge of the arts. An hour after replying, he received a phone call, and an interview was set up. His new career in the arts began in Christie’s commercial office.

While a certain cachet accompanies working at the big auction houses, Carlucci said, Crozier occupies vital roles on the art industry’s periphery. While his latest career shift caught some of his family and friends off guard, the opportunity to make his mark in a growing market was too promising to pass up.

“You can’t be afraid of trying anything,” noted Carlucci. “Don’t let your background or limitations prevent you from at least trying to go after what you want.”

Even as a UAlbany senior, Carlucci understood the importance of expanding his horizons. After meeting his degree requirements, he took an acting course. While acting wasn’t something he’d ever thought to pursue, he ended up loving the class and carrying some of its lessons with him. “I’d like to think that course helps me nowadays when I have to speak to my team or to groups of clients,” Carlucci reflected.