Posted 5 years ago on Sept. 23, 2011, 4:11 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
At 10 a.m. yesterday morning, activists involved in #OCCUPYWALLSTREET paid a visit to a Sotheby's art auction. Last year Sotheby's made record profits, enough so that their CEO Bill Rupprecht awarded himself a 125 percent raise. At the same time the company decided to use union-busting tactics, demanding over 100 concessions to the IBT 814 Art Handlers Union Contract. With their unionized workforce currently on lockout, Sotheby's continues to operate using scabs and a non-union subcontractor and wants all new hires to have no collective bargaining rights, no health benefits and no job security.
Today's auction was held on the seventh floor of Sotheby's Upper East Side auction house—a sterile atmosphere, ripe with the stench of expensive perfume. The activists staggered their entrances and planted themselves in the crowd of businessmen and women, all gathered to witness the sale of artwork, with prices ranging from the average salary of a working American to the average cost of an American home. The first of the activists took the room by surprise, disrupting the auction and announcing that “Sotheby's made $680 million dollars last year but then they kicked their art handlers out on the street!”
While making a call for security, the auctioneer read a prepared statement kept on her podium for just this sort of demonstration. “Thank you for your patience, ladies and gentlemen,” she said, “I hope that is the last interruption we have today.”
However, nine surprise demonstrations disrupted the two-hour auction. One protestor shouted “This is disgusting! Art is about truth.” Another, in sunglasses and a "Greed Kills" T-shirt attested that the “greed in this building is a direct example of the corporate greed that has ruined our economy.” The #OCCUPYWALLSTREET activists were there to show solidarity with the art handlers in their struggle for worker's rights and to warn of a coming increase in direct protests against the top 1 percent of New York City's economic food chain.
“In addition to auctioning off these fine pieces of artwork,” said Mary Clinton, one of the demonstrators, “today Sotheby's is auctioning off the American dream.”
All nine were escorted from the premise by security, shouting, “End the lockout!” and “Occupy Wall Street!” Sotheby's auctions epitomize the disconnect between the extremely wealthy and the rest of us. These are the same financial elite who were bailed out in their moment of need and who now refuse to pay their fair share in taxes.