Sotheby’s European Chairman Melanie Clore to Step Down

She's calling it quits after 35 years with the company.

Clore is one of the most respected auction professionals in the industry. Photo: Sotheby’s
Clore is one of the most respected auction professionals in the industry. Photo: Sotheby’s

Melanie Clore, Sotheby’s European chairman and worldwide co-chairman of impressionist and modern art has called it quits after 35 years at the auction house and will step down at the end of February.

Clore’s career at Sotheby’s started in 1981 when she joined the company as a graduate trainee. Over the years she steadily climbed the ranks to become worldwide co-head of impressionist and modern art in 2000, and chairman of European operations in 2011.

Over the course of her career Clore built a reputation as one of the most respected auction professionals reaching numerous important milestones that included her becoming the first woman auctioneer to take charge of an evening sale in 2000.

Another career highlight includes the appointment as a Trustee of the Tate Gallery by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004.

Sotheby’s also credits her with being “instrumental” in orchestrating the $104 million sale of Alberto Giacometti’s Walking Man in London in 2010, and for the recent $23.2 million sale of Lucian Freud’s Pregnant Girl (1960-61).

Clore is one of the most respected auction professionals in the industry. Photo: Sotheby's

Clore is one of the most respected auction professionals in the industry.
Photo: Sotheby’s

“It has been a privilege working with such a talented and dedicated team, learning from and advising an array of passionate collectors, and, above all else, dealing with breath-taking works of art,” Clore said in a statement. “I know that the next chapter of my career will continue to include many of these ingredients.”

Clore’s resignation comes amid a wave of departures, some of which are voluntary redundancies following Sotheby’s employee buyouts at the end of 2015. Colin Gleadell, writing for the Telegraph, reports that departures to date have included Polly Sartori, head of 19th-century European Art in New York, Anthony Grant, Aileen Agopian and Scott Nussbaum from the Contemporary Art departments in New York, and Matthew Weigman, head of press in London.

Clore did not comment on whether her resignation was part of the general buyout offer. “The terms of my departure are covered by my own private agreement with Sotheby’s,” she told the Telegraph. “I decided in November that it was the perfect time to hand over the baton and move on to the next stage in my career.”

The Art Newspaper speculated that Clore’s decision may have something to do with Sotheby’s $85 million acquisition of Art Agency Partners in January, which resulted in Amy Cappellazzo and Allan Schwartzman heading a newly created private sales division at Sotheby’s that includes its 20th and 21st century art departments.

The speculation is fueled by Clore’s statement in which she revealed that she decided to step down “Following the November auctions in New York.” She said “I decided it was the perfect time to hand over the baton and move to the next stage in my career.”

Although Clore chose not to divulge her next move, judging from her choice of words it seems most likely that she will—at least for the time being—adopt a private art advisory role.


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