Schiff is unique in both her public visibility and her candor—art advisors, on the whole, tend to be cagier and less press-friendly than other art world workers. Over the past two decades, she’s built a formidable reputation as she’s attracted high-profile clientele, embarked on curatorial efforts, and become a sought-after source for journalists investigating the art market. Yet Schiff wants to do more than advise, sell, mingle, and go on the record. She’s slowing down, and plotting a new, more effective course for herself. “One lesson from recent times is that if you don’t agree with something, not agreeing is not enough,” she said.
Schiff got her start as an academic. In the 1990s, she received an MA in art history from the University of Miami and moved to New York to pursue a PhD at the City University of New York (CUNY). She worked closely with Carol Armstrong, studied economic history, and “read a shit ton of Marxist literature,” she said (Frederick Jameson, in particular).