Lois Pincus Cohn
Lois Pincus Cohn (Lois Pincus Cohn)

As the owner of Artspace for more than 30 years, Lois Pincus Cohn came to know many local collectors and kept up on some of the fine art auctions held across the country.

Lois Pincus Cohn’s beautiful historic home is a wonderful backdrop for her paintings, sculptures and books about art and architecture. An art lover who describes herself as “more of a modernist,” she has been a collector for many years, adding to her collection after marriage to her late husband, Judge Avern Cohn. 

In 1984, she transformed her interest in art into a business — Artspace II, a gallery for the resale of high-quality artwork. Cohn says she was inspired partly by her sister’s art gallery in San Francisco and a desire to help people re-sell their art. 

There is a sizable secondary fine art market, Cohn explains, because individuals often decide to sell their art for practical or aesthetic reasons. Sometimes owners move to a new house that isn’t large enough or doesn’t fit the style of their artwork, or they need the funds for other purposes. Also, Cohn says that artistic tastes change, and a collector may decide to sell a painting to purchase something new.

As the owner of Artspace for more than 30 years, Cohn came to know many local collectors and kept up on some of the fine art auctions held across the country. That led to an acquaintance with Gary F. Metzner, senior vice president and head of Sotheby’s Chicago office. Sotheby’s, founded in 1744, hosts hundreds of auctions annually to sell art, jewelry and other luxury items in the U.S. and abroad. Cohn says that about three years ago, Metzner “tapped my shoulder and I was anointed” to serve as Sotheby’s only consultant in Michigan.

In that role, she connects with potential art sellers in the state, often visiting their homes to see their collections. Each piece of art potentially for sale requires significant analysis on her part — first for quality and appropriateness for Sotheby’s. “I do not take your grandma’s teacups,” Cohn explains.

Then she takes photos, does some research on the piece and assesses its condition. In addition, Cohn, who has a B.F.A. in art history and political science, considers whether the artwork is authentic. “There is a lot of fake art,” she says, especially artworks that are purportedly by Chagall, Picasso and Léger.

If the artwork meets quality and authenticity criteria, a description is submitted to Sotheby’s and, if there is interest by the auction house, she discusses a potential price estimate with her client. Then the artwork is packed by an art shipping firm and sent to Sotheby’s in New York for consignment. The art owner is charged a sales commission by Sotheby’s when sold. 

Cohn is Sotheby’s only consultant in Michigan. Most of her clients live in Oakland County, but she welcomes art sellers from other areas. Cohn has a connoisseur’s eye and a gracious approach to people.

“I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Lois over the last three years, in addition to our two decades of friendship, and she has brought a wealth of expertise to Sotheby’s from her storied career in the art world,” Metzner said. “Her strong relationships with artists, institutions and collectors throughout the state of Michigan have been integral to deepening Sotheby’s presence in the Midwest. She works closely with the Chicago regional office in sourcing works for auction and private sale around the globe and connecting collectors with works of art from our global networks of auctions and sales.” 

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