Clayton began collecting contemporary art in earnest in 1980 in Chicago. After relocating to Los Angeles in 1985, he was a partner in New Strategies, while working for A.T. Kearney and Accenture, where he specialized in strategy, marketing, and operations. In 2003, Clayton teamed with Gregory Linn to found LINN | PRESS art advisory services.
Clayton has organized or contributed to several exhibitions or special projects in New York, Los Angeles, Miami Beach, Philadelphia, and Moscow. As an author, he specializes in developing editorial content and writing. Clayton was the editor of and a contributing author to "LOVE STORY, Anne and Wolfgang Titze Collection," (Vienna: Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2014). More recently, he wrote "Next to Nothing. Close to Nowhere. [Kathleen Jacobs]" (Burckhardt Boles publishing: Ewing, 2016), "Robert Mangold, A Survey 1965-2003" (New York: Mnuchin Gallery, 2017), and "Crunchy" (Burckhardt Boles publishing: Ewing, 2017). He is also a regular editorial contributor to Arteviste.com, a London-based digital arts platform.
Clayton has frequently spoken about contemporary art and art markets economics in a variety of settings – from art fairs to universities – in Cologne, Miami Beach, Milan, Moscow, and New York. He has previously taught art economics, strategy, and marketing at the State University of New York. Since 2012, he has been a professor at New York University, where he teaches:
- "Art Market Economics: Fine Art as a Financial Asset"
- "Art and $ell-ebrity: Art, Money, and Fame"
- "Trailblazers, Tastemakers, and Market Makers: Art Collecting in America"
- "Art, Commerce, and Technology: Disruptive Innovation in a Traditional Market"
- "Impression to Modernism: Movements, Markets, and Money"
- "Post-War and Contemporary Art: Movements, Markets, and Money."
He is also a frequent speaker about art as an asset class to private banks and wealth management firms. His opinions and insights are frequently sought by leading business publications, including Alternative Latin Investor, Forbes Magazine, The New York Observer, The New York Times, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and The Wall Street Journal.
Clayton graduated from the University of Rochester, with concentrations in anthropology and art history, where he was awarded the Genesee Scholarship and the Francis G. Wells Scholarship for academic excellence. He completed his master's degree at the University of Pittsburgh. Subsequently, he completed the requirements for a Ph.D. in anthropology and material culture at Southern Illinois University (Carbondale). He was a Doctoral Research Fellow at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, University of the West Indies, Barbados.
Clayton was elected to the Board of the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, where he served as Treasurer. He was previously a member of the 20th Century Acquisitions Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Clayton is a patron of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago. With Gregory, he has been a benefactor to The Art Institute of Chicago, City of Chicago (Department of Cultural Affairs), Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, The National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), Philadelphia Museum of Art, Princeton University Art Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art.