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Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm; Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, 1pm-5pm
Nearby Subway Stops
6 at 68th St.-Hunter College; 6 at 77th St.
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Though Sotheby's has been around since 1744, its enormous, ten-floor American flagship couldn't be more modern. The airy space feels less like a fusty enclave of collectibles and more like a bustling office tower—and of course, that's exactly what it is. As at any business, you're welcome to inspect the merchandise, which in this case happens to be paintings, sculpture, jewelry, wine, even cars. The 10th floor gallery space—one of many—would make most museums envious. Here, anyone can examine the goods, seek the opinions of curators, and, in certain cases, physically handle potential purchases. Not every one of the almost-daily auctions is going to include a Picasso but even sales of less rarefied works can prove pulse-quickening. At the auctions themselves, you'll want to sit in the back so you can watch the action without having to strain your neck. At times the bids bounce around the room so fast, you'll feel like you're watching the finals at Wimbledon. And if the frenetic pace doesn't mesmerize you, the quickly mounting sums of money will. To be one of the players, you'll need to register beforehand.Sotheby's Diamonds
Weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sotheby's Diamonds on the 6th floor is a by-appointment jewelry showroom where the goods are for immediate sale. For info, call 212-894-1400.
The café on the top floor has great views of the skyline—and of dealers and buyers freaking out on cell phones.