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SHOPGIRL: On Manhattan’s Upper East Side on Tuesday night, Claire Distenfeld sought to combine her two passions: shopping and art. Throughout the two-and-a-half-story Fivestory boutique she opened in 2010, she had installed a preview of Sotheby’s “Contemporary Curated” auction, which takes place in late September.
For the auction, Sotheby’s recruits “tastemakers” — “influential cultural people,” in Distenfeld’s words — to arrange an exhibit with their selections from the midseason sales of contemporary art. The others this time are collector Blake Byrne, Buffalo Bills linebacker Keith Rivers and Ambra Medda, the cofounder of Design Miami. “I wanted to leverage that a bit,” Distenfeld said. “I said, ‘I want more than that. I want to curate it and put it in my store.’ ” And so her wish was granted.
Throughout the tony brownstone that houses the store, she hung works by the likes of Alexander Calder and Roy Lichtenstein. Wandering around were designer Rosie Assoulin and one young man who is not part of the auction but likely hopes to be one day, the multihyphenate artist Daniel Arsham.
Distenfeld once dabbled in the art world — she interned at the New Museum during college, and for a while she called herself an art adviser. “I had left the art world after working for six years, and I had to dip [back in],” she said.
As she looked around at the art on display, some pieces resonated personally, such as a canvas by Lucien Smith, but she couldn’t pick a favorite. “That’s like picking a favorite dress in the store,” she said.