James joined Sotheby's in 1979, after gaining a degree in History of Art. He initiated the sales of Garden Statuary in 1986 and as a director of the company also qualified as a chartered surveyor. James co-wrote a book on Garden Ornament for Thames and Hudson and contributes articles to antiques magazines. As well as lecturing on many aspects of the antiques business, he also appears regularly on B.B.C. antiques programmes including "The Antiques Roadshow". He is also Chairman of the garden statuary and sculpture vetting committees for Masterpiece, Olympia, BADA and Battersea Decorative antique fairs.