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10 Minutes with Finance & Art Guru Will Goetzmann

10 Minutes with Finance & Art Guru Will Goetzmann

Team Tuckerman is excited to launch "& Co", a regular series of features where we'll profile various customers and friends of the Tuckerman family right here in the Journal.

To kick things off, we sat down with finance & art guru Will Goetzmann to learn more about his fascinating career, his recent book 25 years in the making, and how he started a tie business with his daughter. 

1.  You're a finance professor by day, but that wasn't always the case - can you tell us a little bit about your work and how you got there?

I’m a professor at Yale School of Management. I love to teach and write about the contribution of finance to society.  This usually means overcoming a wall of skepticism – most people think of the financial system as problem, not a benefit.  I view it as a tool to solve big challenges like funding young entrepreneurs, supporting older people in retirement and protecting all of us against calamities of various sorts. It’s not always an argument I win but it’s one I am passionate about.
I’ve explored many careers.  I worked as an artist, an archaeologist, a documentary filmmaker and a museum director.  As an MBA in the 1980’s I discovered the amazing research conducted by the faculty at the time: how stock prices react to news, how markets manage risk and how human behavior influences markets. I stayed for a Ph.D., taught at Columbia for a few years and then returned to the Yale. One topic that fascinates me is the art market: why do people buy art and how do they determine its value?

2) Finance and Art is a pretty unusual combination - in what ways do they connect?

Art has been used as an investment for centuries but has not been deeply studied. I was asked in the 1990’s to testify at a trial over Andy Warhol’s estate. He left hundreds of paintings when he suddenly passed away and no-one really knew whether they were valuable or worthless. The puzzle of how to “price the priceless” has intrigued me ever since.

3.  What have you been working on most recently?
I just published a book that took me 25 years to write. It is a history of finance called Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible. It is all there --  the good, the bad and the ugly, and it features some of my true heroes, for example, Francis Perkins – the creator the U. S. Social Security System.

4.  We've also heard rumors that you have a bit of a side venture going - can you tell us about that?
I’ve never stopped working as an artist – mostly painting – but when the iPhone and graphic apps appeared, they offered fascinating new ways to draw. My daughter Zoe and I began to doodle on the iPhone and, for fun, designed neckties.  We founded a company to produce them and now sell ties and scarves through stores and online at

5.  What's the design process like - how do you get to the finished product?
The process has to be loose. Designs are freehand but at the same time graphic. The iPhone app somehow captures that doodling spirit. I can’t tell you the number of times a complete stranger has stopped me and remarked on my tie. I think the looseness of the design contradicts expectations.

6.  What inspired your first collection?
We named the ties in our first collection for the beaches on Saint Barthes – we started vacations on the island decades ago before it became a celebrity haunt. Each beach has its own character and we like the idea that a tie can invoke a vacation rather than a business deal.

7.  What's one thing about you that most people don't know?
I am a Texan – raised in Austin. I designed posters, records and stage sets for bands when Austin music first got going.

8.  Anything else you'd like to share with the Tuckerman community?
I love the way Jonas and Amanda have considered the broader social and environmental context of their company and their products – and I really love the shirts.

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