Sotheby’s CEO William F. Ruprecht has announced his resignation after 14 years in the role.
William Ruprecht, 58, would leave his post by “mutual agreement” after a successor was found, Sotheby’s said on November 20.
His departure comes a year after activist investor Dan Loeb started demanding changes at the auction house.
Last week, chief competitor Christie’s significantly outsold Sotheby’s in contemporary art auctions in New York.
Rival Christie’s sold a record $852.9 million in works, compared to $343.7 million at Sotheby’s during flagship sales held every November.
“We are moving with a sense of urgency, but we will take the time we need to find the right leader for Sotheby’s at this critical juncture in its continuing evolution,” said director Domenico De Sole in a statement about William Ruprecht’s departure.
William Ruprecht started in Sotheby’s rug department in 1980 and rose up the ranks to become a director, president and chief executive in 2000. He was also elected to chairman of its board in 2012.
His management style, however, came under fire after investors began demanding changes such as the sale of Sotheby’s headquarters in Manhattan and moves to improve its balance sheet.
Billionaire investor Dan Loeb, who leads hedge fund Third Point which is the biggest shareholder in Sotheby’s, joined the company’s board in May.
Last year, Dan Loeb had demanded that William Ruprecht resign, describing the company as “an old master painting in desperate need of restoration”.
Sotheby’s New York listed shares were up over 7% in after hours trade after the announcement.
An auction of masks originating from Native American Hopi tribe in Arizona has begun in Paris, after a legal challenge to stop the sale failed.
Lawyers for the Hopi tribe had asked for the auction to be cancelled on the grounds that the 70 masks must have been stolen from the tribe.
It considers them sacred and blessed with divine spirits.
Auctioneers, however, say the masks had been bought and sold in the past and were legally acquired.
“The sale is going ahead,” lawyer Pierre Servan-Schreiber, who represents the Hopi tribe, told news agency AFP after a Paris court rejected the bid.
Lawyers for the Hopi tribe had asked for Paris auction to be cancelled on the grounds that the 70 masks must have been stolen from the tribe
Robert Redford has been supporting the Hopi and describes himself as their “close friend”.
Before the court ruling, Robert Redford wrote that the masks “belong to the Hopi and the Hopi alone”.
“To auction these would be, in my opinion, a sacrilege – a criminal gesture that contains grave moral repercussions,” the actor said.
“I would hope that these sacred items can be returned to the Hopi tribe where they belong. They are not for auction.”
The legal proceedings were brought by the organization Survival International, which defends the rights of tribal peoples.
The US ambassador to France, Charles Rivkin, has also said he is “very concerned” about the sale.
However, auctioneer Gilles Neret-Minet of auction house Neret-Minet Tessier & Sarrou had warned that a ruling to stop the sale could potentially force French museums to empty out their collections.
“If we lose this case, there will be no more sales of objects of indigenous art in France,” he said before the court ruling.
More than 650 items belonging to former President John F. Kennedy were found locked away at the home of former aide David F. Powers, who worked alongside the president for his entire political career.
The lot, which includes rare photographs, clothing and other personal items will be auctioned off next month.
The items were recently discovered at the home of David F. Powers, who was special assistant to John F. Kennedy during his years in the White House and started working for him in 1946.
The auction, by John McInnis Auctioneers, will take place on February 17.
More than 650 items belonging to JFK were found locked away at the home of former aide David F. Powers, who worked alongside the president for his entire political career
“To be auctioned are the personal items he chose to keep close to himself throughout his lifetime. Powers’ collection encompasses years of history with the Kennedy Family and his White House years,” says the auctioneers’ website.
The collection will be on display at the Amesbury, Massachusetts auction house from February 9 through the 16th.
The vial said to contain a sample of the late President Ronald Reagan’s blood has been withdrawn from sale by an online auction house.
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation had expressed outrage over the auction, in which bidding had reached over $30,000.
Guernsey-based PFC Auctions said in a statement that the vial would now be donated to the Reagan foundation.
The foundation said it was pleased the blood would stay “out of public hands”.
The vial said to contain a sample of the late President Ronald Reagan's blood has been withdrawn from sale by an online auction house
PFC Auctions, based on Guernsey in the British Channel Islands, said in a statement that the seller they were representing had bought the blood at a public auction in the US in February 2012 for $3,500.
The seller had now agreed for the item to be withdrawn from sale and donated to the foundation in “a considerable financial gesture”, it said.
According to the auctioneers, the seller is a “serious collector of presidential memorabilia” who did not think the Reagan foundation had any interest in the blood that he had bought.
The re-auction had “highlighted the importance of this historical artefact” the anonymous seller told them.
“I would personally be delighted to see this important artefact put on public display by the foundation,” the seller said.
The lot included a letter of provenance from the original seller who said their late mother worked at the laboratory which carried out blood testing for George Washington University Hospital after Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981.
Ronald Reagan, who went on to serve two terms as president, died at the age of 93 in 2004.