Sotheby’s Lays Off Staff Amid Restructuring

Bill Ruprecht, CEO of Sotheby's / Shaun Mader/

According to a post from CNBC reporter Robert Frank, Sotheby’s is laying off an unspecified number of staff and moving a portion of them to other positions as part of a broader overhaul. Frank cited “two people close to Sotheby’s” who said “several staffers were laid off Thursday and the company may be looking to combine or restructure certain departments.”

The auction house recently added activist investor Dan Loeb along with two other new members to its board after a nearly year-long, often contentious proxy battle over Sotheby’s business model, which Loeb believes needs to be revamped. Having lagged behind competitor Christie’s in its digital strategy and online sales platform, Sotheby’s announced a new joint venture with eBay just this week, the second time the two have teamed up after a failed effort in 2002.

Sotheby’s released robust half-year results earlier this week and said online bidders competed for 17 percent of lots in 2013.

Though Sotheby’s declined to elaborate on the layoffs, in a statement released to CNBC, it said: “As part of a long-range planning process begun earlier this year, Sotheby’s has identified areas for growth and additional investment. To capture these opportunities in an ever-evolving business, the company has decided to reallocate staff and resources. Some departments will be expanded and new positions created, while other areas will see modest staff reductions by the end of the year. Our goal is to build on the strong results we have been achieving, continue to increase our ability to compete in the marketplace, and better serve our clients.”

Asked if there any further information on the number of layoffs, Sotheby’s emailed a statement to artnet News from Andrew Gully, its worldwide director of communications: “We have identified areas for review but this process is underway and we cannot provide specific numbers of employees or departments affected at this stage.”




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