Contemporary Art Head Cheyenne Westphal Leaves Sotheby’s After 25 Years

The exodus continues.

Cheyenne Westphal.
Photo: Patrick McMullan.

The contemporary art expert that Harper’s Bazaar called “Sotheby’s secret weapon” is leaving the house after some 25 years. The departure of Cheyenne Westphal is the latest in an unprecedented string of exits by high-profile veterans.

In a video on the auctioneer’s website, she describes as the high point of her career the brokering of the collection of Count Christian Duerckheim-Ketelhodt, which included works by Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke, and Gerhard Richter among many other major figures in German art. That sale totaled some $97 million.

Wesphal also was key in organizing the highly unorthodox Damien Hirst two-day auction Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, in which the YBA brought his own works directly to the esteemed auction house. That 2008 sale in London achieved $200 million. She also brought to the house the Helga and Walther Lauffs collection of post-war European art, which brought some $140 million.

Westphal joined the auctioneer in 1990 and also oversaw every major contemporary art sale in Europe since 1999. She was named European chairman in 2006.

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