Longtime Sotheby’s Executive Mitchell Zuckerman Is Among Wave of Company Buyouts

Sotheby's is said to have received wave of applications for buyouts.

Sotheby's New York City Headquarters

artnet News has learned that longtime Sotheby’s executive and finance expert Mitchell Zuckerman is one of a number of employees who has applied for a buyout and is planning to leave the firm, according to a source close to the matter. Sotheby’s declined to comment on artnet News’ request for information or to confirm Zuckerman’s departure.

According to a corporate profile listed on Bloomberg, Zuckerman served as president of Sotheby’s Financial Services from 1988 to 2007, and was chairman of Sotheby’s Financial Services from 2007 to 2011. He has held the title of president of Sotheby’s Ventures LLC since 1997 as well as the title of executive vice president of Sotheby’s global operations since 2011.

Sotheby’s is in the process of offering buyouts to its employees and has received numerous applications, according to recent reporting in the New York Times, the Art Market Monitor, and Bloomberg.

Art Market Monitor’s Marion Maneker noted in a December 7 post that a New York Times story—on Christie’s executive Marc Porter jumping ship to join Sotheby’s—contained information about Sotheby’s having “strong turnout for company buyouts.”

“Sotheby’s has also just completed a round of buyouts, which an unexpectedly large number of employees volunteered for,” wrote Robin Pogrebin for the Times. The paper later corrected information in the story about possible Sotheby’s layoffs saying: “It is not the case that layoffs had been planned there.”

The above language in the Times story has since been amended to read: “Sotheby’s has also just completed a round of voluntary buyouts that achieved the company’s required cost savings. That means the auction house will not have to resort to layoffs, a spokeswoman said.”

However, according to a November 13 story in Bloomberg by Katya Kazakina that was based on an auction house email (a copy of which was reportedly shared with her), Sotheby’s told employees that “if not enough employees make use of the buyouts, it may have to resort to layoffs.” So, it’s unclear whether or not layoffs have or have not been planned.

The news follows a tumultuous year. This past March, Sotheby’s appointed a new CEO, Tad Smith, who was former CEO of MSG.


Shares of Sotheby’s have fallen to above $26 per share from about $32 per share in the past month.
Source: Yahoo Finance.

Shares of Sotheby’s stock have been declining in recent weeks. When the company reported third-quarter earnings on November 9, shares were trading around $32 each. Today, looking at activity on the New York Stock Exchange, shares were trading at around $26.60.


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