Sotheby’s Hires Christy MacLear, Rauschenberg Foundation Head, to Ramp Up Advisory Services

Sotheby's will now advise artists on estate planning.

Christy MacLear. Courtesy Sotheby's.

In the latest in a string of new hires, Sotheby’s has brought on Christy MacLear, the CEO of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, as vice chairman of its fine arts division.

In her new job, she’ll provide advisory services to artists, artists’ estates and foundations, starting in January 2017.

A six-decade Rauschenberg retrospective is currently on view at London’s Tate Modern; it is the first posthumous retrospective for the artist since his death in 2008. artnet News’s Lorena Muñoz-Alonso dubbed the works in the show—which will travel to New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art—”still well ahead of the curve six decades after they were created.”

MacLear was the first CEO of the Rauschenberg Foundation, which was established in 1980. She previously served as executive director of the Philip Johnson Glass House, in Connecticut; in that post, she oversaw the estate of curator David Whitney, Johnson’s partner. She had also been director of the Museum Campus in Chicago, which encompasses the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, and the Field Museum of Natural History.

Since taking over in 2015, Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith is clearly on a mission to diversify the company’s offerings. The move by the auctioneer comes just weeks after the house’s acquisition of Orion Analytical, founded by conservator and forensic expert James Martin, to spot fakes. It also bought the Mei Moses Indices, an art market analytics tool, in October.

The larger context is Sotheby’s 2016 purchase of Art Agency, Partners, the advisory firm founded in 2014 by Amy Cappellazzo, ex-Christie’s contemporary head, and advisor Allan Schwartzman. They form a newly established fine arts division, headed up by former Christie’s executive Marc Porter, of which MacLear is the newest staffer. It’s all part of extensive turnover, with numerous long-term specialists and executives leaving the house in recent months.

“We are extremely pleased with the development of our advisory services business both in terms of impact with new and existing clients as well as for Sotheby’s shareholders,” said Smith in the announcement of MacLear’s hire.

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