Following the announcement by Sotheby’s on Thursday November 19th that William F. Ruprecht, their chairman and chief executive of Sotheby’s was stepping down, a leaked document published on ARTnews, and available on Scribd, states that Sotheby’s embattled CEO will receive a $4 million severance payment “provided for under his existing agreement.”
Sotheby’s has begun a search for its next CEO, and Ruprecht will continue to lead the company until a successor is found.
The news of this succession comes on the heels of a lengthy proxy battle with activist investor Dan Loeb who eventually won three seats on the board including one for himself. In a press release, Sotheby’s said it has retained executive search firm Spencer Stuart to assist in the search for a new CEO, and the auction house’s board has formed a search committee to find a new CEO with Domenico De Sole, who is the lead independent director, heading the process. Sotheby’s has also hired the search firm Spencer Stuart.
It has been stated by De Sole that the Board was “focused on ensuring a smooth transition that will facilitate Sotheby’s continued success.”
“Under Bill’s leadership, the Sotheby’s brand has never been stronger, and he has built the Company’s business to include branded private gallery sales, an expanding art-related finance business, retail wine and jewellery sales, global education programs, and an innovative online presence,” De Sole added to the publication.
William Ruprecht, 58, joined Sotheby’s in 1980. He was appointed president and CEO of Sotheby’s in 2000, and was later elected chairman of the board in 2012. He served as executive vice president and managing director of Sotheby’s North and South America from 1994 until 2000. From 1992 to 1994 he was director of marketing for Sotheby’s worldwide and oversaw several specialist departments. From 1986 to 1992, he served as director of marketing for Sotheby’s.
Ruprecht concluded in a statement, “I have had the privilege of working with so many talented and dedicated colleagues at Sotheby’s, and I am proud of all that we have accomplished together. This is an exciting time for this great company. I will do all I can to contribute to a smooth leadership transition.”