David Goodman, Sotheby’s Marketing Chief Who Played a Central Role in Its Digital Expansion, Is Leaving the Auction House

Sotheby's representatives insist Goodman's departure is unrelated to its sale to Drahi, while another staffer left before that deal.

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 01: Digital and Marketing Chief at Sotheby's David Goodman speaks at the VIP Closing Dinner during Advertising Week 2015 AWXII at Sotheby's on October 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for AWXII)

David Goodman, a high-ranking Sotheby’s executive, is leaving the company, artnet News has learned. The move comes just two weeks after the 275-year-old auction house was acquired by telecom magnate Patrick Drahi for $3.7 billion.

Goodman and Smith previously worked together at the Madison Square Garden Company and was Smith’s first major hire after he joined the auction house in 2015. As Sotheby’s executive vice president of digital development and marketing, he was seen as an integral force behind Sotheby’s broader push into the digital realm and online sales in recent years, as well as the recently unveiled “Treasures From Chatsworth,” an elaborate exhibition of objects from an English estate staged by the set designer from Hamilton.

Sotheby's CEO Tad Smith.

Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Sources say that Goodman was fired, though a Sotheby’s spokesperson says the decision to eliminate his role was mutual. “Our needs going forward are not the same as we had four years ago when David joined, and as a result Tad and David agreed over the course of the last several months that the time was right to part ways,” the spokesman said. In a note to staff, Smith said the “management transitions” are effective immediately, though Goodman “will be available as needed throughout the summer so we can benefit from his insight on key projects still underway and you can all wish him well.”

Moving forward, Ken Citron, formerly chief technology officer, will assume the role as leader of digital product development and transformation. Marketing will be consolidated among existing staff: Val Carlotti in the Americas, Jan Prasens in Europe, and Kevin Ching and Bob Sleigh in Asia. It remains unclear exactly how the acquisition by Drahi—a tycoon known to reduce expenditures who is referred to by French unions simply as the “cost killer”—will affect current staff.

In his note, Smith praised Goodman for his role in helping to transform Sotheby’s into a 21st-century company. “David arrived at an organization with little digital capability, and yet I think we can all agree that the company he joined looks much better today,” he wrote. “I need hardly remind us of the hundreds of millions of dollars in online sales we will do this year, the growth in our online-only business, or our email and digital advertising capabilities, the quality of our editorial and video programs, the millions of dollars of high margin property we will receive from the online consignment platform, [and] the promising capabilities we have developed with machine learning.” He also cited Goodman’s role in the development of Sotheby’s new Viking auction platform.

Another recent departure from the company is Karen Nachbar, senior vice president, associate general counsel and compliance counsel. Nachbar, who previously worked at Morgan Stanley and Scholastic, Inc., was hired roughly two and a half years ago. During her time at the auction house, she provided legal advice to Sotheby’s e-commerce and technology divisions, conducted due diligence for Sotheby’s many acquired companies, and advised on copyright issues. She left several weeks ago to take on a new role at a tech company, artnet News understands.

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