“What do I love about my job? I love working with paintings, doing a lots of DIY jobs around the office and talking to clients whom I have known for years” – Zake Nakedi
There are few organisations in the world who can boast the type of talent like our very own Zake Nakedi. Zake has been with Stephan Welz & Co. for 46 years, making him an integral part of our longstanding history. Born in Alexandra in 1951, Zake started off his life in humble surroundings but would make his mark in the thrilling environment of the South African auctioneering industry.
While completing his GCE A Levels at college in 1970, Zake was recruited by Nadine Gordimer, the famous South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature, to work for her husband Reinhold Cassirer, the founder of Sotheby’s South Africa.
“I have been with Stephan Welz & Co. since the beginning. We were known as Sotheby’s South Africa back then as we only changed our name Stephan Welz & Co. in 1986. The highlight of my career so far was when I was sent to the Sotheby’s headquarters in London to see how things are done in the auctioneering industry. I still use the tricks I leant on that trip to this day,” he explains.
He was in attendance at the first auction we ever held on 24 November 1971. “A lot has changed since the early years. The biggest difference is the pure scale of our auctions. Today they are far larger and they include a much wider variety of lots, like classic cars. At the first auction we only offered paintings and books,” he says.
Zake lists the great Stephan Welz as one of the greatest people he has ever worked with. “He was my mentor, he taught me everything I know. I’m proud of everything we accomplished together. The single most important thing he taught me was differentiating between fake and genuine pieces and how to effectively valuate pieces,” says Zake.
What makes a successful auction house? Zake believes that reputation and integrity plays an essential part in the industry. “Firstly you should be a reputable Auction House. You should give proper estimates for the works to attract both private buyers and dealers. Treat your clients with dignity and honesty. Deal with enquiries promptly and lastly show a high rate of Sale which is what we are doing,” he explains.
Apart from his incredible professional career, Zake has made his personal life an even greater success. “Any working environment can be challenging at times and it is through these periods that you have to have a supportive family waiting at home. My lovely wife Pumla has been my pillar of strength through thick and thin. We have four beautiful children, two girls and two boys, who are the most important people in our lives. I’m thankful that we have been able to provide them with proper education and they are able to have their own successful careers in marketing, IT, business and geology,” he says.