Number of pages: 318
Number of images: 18
Publication date: 2018-02-08
Helen Gee (née Wimmer, born in Jersey City, New Jersey, 1919; died in New York, 2004) left home at the age of sixteen to live in Greenwich Village with Yun Gee (pronounced with a soft “g”), a modernist painter. After their marriage ended, and as a single mother, Gee managed to grow a successful photo-retouching business, working for leading ad agencies and magazines. At the same time, she took classes with Lisette Model, Alexey Brodovitch, and Sid Grossman, before founding Limelight in 1954. After it closed in 1961, Gee worked as an art consultant and freelance curator.
Denise Bethel (introduction), formerly Chairman, Photographs, Americas, Sotheby’s New York, began her auctioneering career in 1980 at Manhattan’s Swann Galleries, where she met Helen Gee for the first time. She joined Sotheby’s in 1990, and in her long tenure there set world auction records for a number of photographers whose work had been shown at Limelight: Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, László Moholy-Nagy, Aaron Siskind, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, and Minor White, among many others. The memorable collection sales she orchestrated at Sotheby’s included ones from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and Joy of Giving Something, Inc., which, in 2014, broke all records for any photographs auction worldwide at $21.3 million. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Bethel holds a BA from Hollins College and an MA from London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. She is now an independent advisor, a writer, and a lecturer based in New York City