Sotheby’s and Phillips announce departures and arrivals
On Wednesday, two of the three big auction houses announced changes in the composition of their management teams.
Phillips announced that Stephen Brooks would become the company’s next CEO as a former executive, Edward Dolman, has moved on to a new role of executive chairman. Separately, Sotheby’s has said that the head of its fine arts division, Amy Cappellazzo, will be leaving the company after more than five years, guiding it to billionaire clients and major sales; her duties will be split between three different employees when she leaves the auction house this summer.
The changes in the upper echelons of the auction world show how companies are trying to reposition themselves for growth during the pandemic, said Natasha Degen, president of art market research at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“This is a time when sales have clearly declined in the business,” said Degen, referring to the 26% decrease in global auctions last year. “The auction houses therefore quickly went online. They were really interested in new categories like NFTs, sneakers and streetwear. There are also more collaborations between auction houses and luxury brands. “
Earlier this week, Phillips revealed a new consulting service aimed at helping their clients find works of art in the primary market, which includes galleries and artist studios. The initiative showed how auction houses took the year to diversify their offerings, making forays into lines of business once tightly controlled by art galleries.
“Our ambition is considerable,” said Brooks, who sees the advisory service as part of a larger plan to accelerate the growth of the auction house. Brooks, 56, a key member of Christie’s board and its management team for over 11 years, also plans to expand Phillips’ footprint in Asia and the 20th century art market. He added that he would like to see the company double the size of its overall business within the next five years.
At Sotheby’s, change requires a triumvirate of new positions. Brooke Lampley will oversee auctions and private sales for categories such as Old Masters and Contemporary Art; Mari-Claudia Jiménez will lead the company’s global business development activities; and Grégoire Billault is promoted to president of contemporary art.
“We are trying to position ourselves for the future,” said Charles F. Stewart, Managing Director of Sotheby’s, acknowledging the role Cappellazzo played in driving sales. “We are in a period of adjustment, adaptation and transformation.”
Cappellazzo first came to prominence as director of the Rubell Collection in Miami in the 1990s. She later helped found Art Basel Miami Beach. In 2001 she started working for Christie’s until she set up her own consultancy firm, Artistic agency, Partners, in 2014. Two years later, Sotheby’s acquired the company for $ 85 million and it signed a five-year contract, which ended in January.
His tenure at Sotheby’s helped consolidate his reputation as a rainmaker in the industry. In 2016, she hosted an auction for musician David Bowie’s treasure trove and a year later oversaw the $ 110.5 million sale of a Basquiat painting. Earlier this year, she also helped secure the $ 150 million collection by philanthropist Anne Marion, which will be auctioned at Sotheby’s this spring.
“You kind of know when it’s a good time to go,” Cappellazzo said in an interview, declining to discuss his next venture except to say it wouldn’t be in direct competition with Sotheby’s. “The real story is what I do next, but I want this chapter to end first.”