Valuations: E-Commerce Entrepreneur Bettina Huang on Her Search for the Perfect Floor Lamp and the ‘Transcendent’ Work of Mickey Lee

Much of the art world revolves around questions of value, not only in terms of appraisals and price tags, but also: what is worth your time in These Times, as well as your energy, your attention, and yes, your effort. Earned cash?

What math do you do to determine the meaning and value of something? What drives you? What enriches your life? In this new series, we ask people in the art world and beyond about what they value on a personal level.

Bettina Huang learned a lot about the art industry in her first job, in the post-war and contemporary art department at Christie’s – including that elitism and an aversion to innovation weren’t for her. So he entered the world of e-commerce.

Now, after a decade at sites like, the native New Yorker has bridged the two worlds with Platform, an e-commerce site backed by David Zwirner. The initiative aims to reduce barriers to discovering and purchasing art, and showcases works by current artists selected in collaboration with the gallery.

Recently, the platform has begun producing products in collaboration with artists, including a Raymond Pettibone t-shirt, limited to 100 pieces. Items that are not too expensive, Huang said.

Ahead of the next collaboration, which is set to drop in January 2023, he kindly answered our valuation questionnaire.

Huang's mother, Jane, at the Sir John Swan Museum during their recent trip to London.  Courtesy of Bettina Huang.

Huang’s mother, Jane, at the Sir John Swan Museum during their recent trip to London. Courtesy of Bettina Huang.

What’s the last thing you splurged on?

I just got back from a long weekend in London with my mum who hadn’t left the country since before the pandemic. I’m not one to fly across the Atlantic for quick trips – the thought of all the greenhouse gases on the plane makes me sick! – But I was really lucky to be able to spend time with my mom and help her get away from New York for a while. . We ate way too much, hung out at the Sir John Swan Museum (one of the most amazing places in the world, I think), and people-watched in the parks – good quality time.

What are you saving for?

I recently moved into a new apartment, so decorating is on my mind. Right now I’m looking for a floor lamp, but not just any lamp. In general, I look for things that achieve my trinity: 1) a design that I really like; 2) It adds meaningfully to my life. 3) It has a reasonable price. In this case, I find that 1 and 3 in one lamp is really hard, so I save up to get something I like aesthetically.

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I haven’t found the right one yet, but an example of something headed in the right direction is the Willow floor lamp by Jackrabbit Studio. I love the curves and the sculptural base, and it balances gravity and playfulness. However, I don’t think the ingredients are exactly right for me…

If anyone knows anything to achieve that triple status, suggestions are welcome!

Hwang Seymour's dog, modeling for Platform.  Photo: Jonathan Hooklow.

Hwang Seymour’s dog, modeling for Platform. Photo: Jonathan Hooklow.

What would you buy if you found $100?

I do something totally stupid that I would never do if I had to come up with that $100 myself, like take halo pictures and read to my dog. I’m definitely curious about that.

What makes you feel like a million dollars?

A good sleep over the weekend. And love, though it may cost more than a million dollars.

What do you think is your greatest asset?

I am really good at thinking critically about problems and opportunities, which allows me to find solutions to problems that are not obvious. Along with that, I am comfortable talking to anyone.

What do you value most in a work of art?

Here’s another multi-part answer: The artwork that moves me has to push boundaries and do something that feels original, which could be in technique or subject matter. In contemporary work, I also think it’s very important for art to relate to what is meaningful in the culture and to me. And of course there has to be something about art that catches the eye, and it doesn’t have to be pretty – it can even be quite the opposite.

<i>Panoramic view of New York City</i> At the Queens Museum, New York.  Photo: Max Toohey.  Courtesy of the Queens Museum.  ” width=”1024″ height=”683″ srcset=”×683.jpg 1024w, https://news×200.jpg 300w, 29__MG_8861-1536×1024.jpg 1536w,×1365.jpg 2048w, news-upload/2022/11/150223_15-13-29__MG_8861-50×33.jpg 50w,×1280.jpg 1920w” sizes=”(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px”/></p>
<p id=Panorama of New York City At the Queens Museum, New York. Photo: Max Toohey. Courtesy of the Queens Museum.

An unexpected example: I was thrilled to discover a New York City panorama made for the 1964 World’s Fair, now part of the Queens Museum. It was not necessarily created as a work of art, but it is incredibly beautiful, unprecedented for its time, and of great cultural significance. The lighting of the room and the objects in the panorama change so that you can see how 1960s New York looked at all times of the day. This is a 1:1200 scale model that is large enough to walk around and see the details. And while it was probably intended to be an objective representation of New York at the time, nothing is objective, so you can understand the biases (many of which were probably unconscious) that influenced it.

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Who is an emerging artist worthy of everyone’s attention?

I’m excited about Mickey Lee who was on the platform recently. From what I can tell, he and I have Very Different characters, but his work transcends the differences. He creates images – more so of women – that feel like they resonate with something fundamental. He is a great colorist and his work is as if it comes from the old masters, but he channels this connection with tradition to connect with today’s mood and culture..

میکی لی، <i>red cow</i> (2022).  Courtesy of Platform” width=”814″ height=”1024″ srcset=” -courtesy-of-Platform-814×1024.jpg 814w, 239×300.jpg 239w,×1536.jpg 1222w, https: //×2048.jpg 1629w, /app/news-upload/2022/11/Mickey-Lee-Red-Cow-2022-image-courtesy-of-Platform-40×50.jpg 40w, 2022/11/Mickey-Lee-Red-Cow-2022-image-courtesy-of-Platform-1527×1920.jpg 1527w, -Red-Cow-2022-image-courtesy-of-Platform-scaled.jpg 2036w” sizes=”(max-width: 814px) 100vw, 814px”/></p>
<p id=mickey lee red cow (2022). Courtesy of the platform

Who is an overlooked artist who has yet to achieve his due?

What interests me personally are two things Groups From long-overlooked artists: women and/or BIPOC artists. I could go on forever about this, but artists with less than stellar backgrounds still don’t make up a significant percentage of the artists whose work is being bought and sold (and therefore able to make a living). It is underpinned by the lack of diversity in the workforce that underpins the industry.

One of the things that I’ve been very happy to see in the implementation of the platform is that there is a real interest from our customers in talented women and BIPOC artists. We help artists get their due. These efforts stem from a team that represents a range of identities.

What do you think is the most important thing in the world of art?

All the events that people feel they need to ooze Being well-dressed, educated, well-mannered, etc. They are neither fun nor a good way to meet people who are themselves!

What is your most valuable asset?

I’m not very attached to things, and I’m very selective about what I keep. Under the right circumstances, I could carry my entire life with one suitcase.

However, I had this great bike for 13 years. It’s like the odds of not getting a bike stolen in New York in that amount of time. And finally it happened a few months ago. I was surprised at how sad I was. I walked around town thinking I’d see it and get it back, like I’d lost a pet.

The popular bike that got away.  Courtesy of Bettina Huang.

The popular bike that got away. Courtesy of Bettina Huang.

What has been your best investment?

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Getting an MBA was very valuable to me. I was working at Christie’s and wanted to develop a perspective and experience beyond the niche that is the art industry. It doesn’t sound like an advertisement for NYU Stern, but the business school allowed me to do just that. I practiced skills I hadn’t touched there in years, but I went into a completely different world of startups, and it gave me a whole new and broader mindset. This led to what I do now: working with art again, leading a company that is making meaningful yet complementary changes in the industry.

What is not worth advertising?

More than I can list, but to name a few: dating apps, prophylactic Botox, Web3, Ottolenghi.

What do you think is a good reason?

A reason I am personally involved with is mentoring children of families who have recently immigrated to the US, I think it helps even out access to opportunities. As much as this is a country that values ​​hard work, there are beneficial connections and positivity passed down from generation to generation – but much less so when you’re a family that just moved here. My parents immigrated from Taiwan and I had to figure things out on my own as a child. So it’s very important for me to try to pass on what I’ve learned with those shoes.

what do you wish

lots of things! Side gigs where I can be creative (start a food podcast, make a TV show, write a book). and appearing as a judge on a cooking reality show. Some are more serious than others, but overall, I live a life where I feel like most of my time is spent doing things I enjoy and find meaningful.

Photo by Halle Huang (2022).  Courtesy of Bettina Huang.

Photo by Halle Huang (2022). Courtesy of Bettina Huang.

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