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Who's in the Video

James Zemaitis

James Zemaitis began his auction career in 1996 at Christie's, where he worked for three years in the 20th Century Design department. Prior to his arrival at Sotheby's in 2003,[…]

From smashed bottle caps to 20th-century design.

James Zemaitis: I first started collecting smashed bottle caps in the fifth grade. There is a supermarket in the town of Mendham, New Jersey where I grew up. And my mom would get, you know, quite ticked off at me because I would kind of dart in between the station wagons and look for, like, smashed Heineken caps. And so I put together this kind of like very obsessive, in alphabetical order by the beer name, collection of mashed caps. And I considered myself lucky when I convinced my dad to buy like a six-pack of some imported beer so I could take, like, the mint cap and replaced the smashed cap with the mint cap. So bottle caps led to baseball cards; which led to antique bottles, which is still an obsession of mine; collecting insulators from the tops of telephone poles. And it just kind of mutated from there.

1/30/08