Art Market

Sotheby’s will restructure as its new owner and CEO clean house.

Christy Kuesel
Dec 13, 2019 6:05PM, via The Art Newspaper

The Impressionist and modern art galleries at the New York headquarters of Sotheby’s. Photo courtesy Sotheby’s.

Weeks after Sotheby’s hired new CEO Charles Stewart, the auction house announced it would restructure into two main divisions: Fine Arts; and Luxury, Art, and Objects. The first division will encompass Sotheby’s current Fine Art division, which includes contemporary, Impressionist, Modern British, and Latin American Art, along with the new additions of Old Master and 19th century works. The Luxury, Art, and Objects division will comprise categories like jewelry, wine, watches, books, and Asian art.

Amy Cappellazzo, chairman of the current Fine Art division, will oversee the expanded Fine Arts division. She was a founder of the advisory firm Art Agency, Partners, which Sotheby’s acquired in 2016. A newly created Product and Technology unit will aid both departments; it will be headed by Stefan Pepe, who comes from 10 years of working at Amazon.

By streamlining the auction house into two divisions, Stewart hopes to “reduce the current silos that exist between fine arts, business development, and regional organizations,” according to The Art Newspaper.

Around 20 to 30 senior staff were laid off last month. Valentino Carlotti, head of business development, received a $3.9-million severance package. Tad Smith, Sotheby’s outgoing CEO, received a $28.2-million severance deal. Additional departures took place this week, including that of Clive Lord, the auction house’s chief operating officer in London.

The French-Israeli telecom billionaire Patrick Drahi acquired Sotheby’s earlier this year in a deal worth $3.7 billion, took the company private, installed Stewart as CEO, and is now looking to cut costs. Estimates vary, but he may try to cut $66 million to $100 million in expenses next year.

Further Reading: Sotheby’s Going Private Will Change the Art Market Forever

Christy Kuesel