The accidental auctioneer

  @FortuneMagazine December 19, 2013: 7:37 AM ET
DOY13 kathleen doyle

Doyle has modernized her family's New York City antiques business.

(Fortune)

Kathleen Doyle never planned on running an auction house. But when her husband, William J. Doyle, founder and CEO of auctioneer and art-appraisal company Doyle New York, died of leukemia 20 years ago at age 53, she not only stabilized the firm but modernized a business that was antiquated in more ways than one -- and turned the company into a global brand.

"It was a shock when my husband died in 1993, and I took over the business," says Doyle, who had worked at the company in its early years (it started as an antiques store in 1962) before pursuing a master's degree in child development.

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