Christie’s incoming CEO Patricia Barbizet didn’t waste time. Only a week after the house announced that chief executive Steven Murphy was leaving, the London-based auctioneer confirmed that its president of the Americas division, Doug Woodham, will depart the company at the end of the month, the Financial Times reports.
Two senior executives will also see their positions bumped up. Star auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen, who until now was president of the Europe division, has been appointed global president. Stephen Brooks’s COO post will be enhanced to global COO, with extra responsibilities in corporate activities.
Murphy’s departure was attributed to alleged diminishing profit margins at Christie’s. Though, this cannot be verified as the company is privately owned and thus not bound to reveal its figures (see “Why Was Christie’s CEO Steven Murphy Fired?”).
Barbizet has long been a loyal aide to François Pinault, who owns Christie’s via the holding company Artémis. Her appointment at the head of Christie’s complements a string of high-powered positions at the heart of the Pinault empire. Barbizet is CEO of Financière Pinault and Artémis, vice-chair of the board of Kering (Pinault’s luxury goods holding company), and has been Christie’s chairman for 15 years.
This has led industry insiders to speculate that her appointment might be a temporary measure.
The departure of Murphy came weeks after Sotheby’s chief executive Bill Ruprecht resigned, ending a long proxy battle with Sotheby’s principal stakeholder Dan Loeb (see “Will Dan Loeb Take Sotheby’s Private? Stock Rises 9 Percent on Departure of William Ruprecht“).
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