Update: Sotheby’s announced the adoption of a defensive poison pill this morning making it difficult and expensive for Loeb’s Third Point to acquire more than 10% of the company’s stock.
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The release of Dan Loeb’a letter to Sotheby’s CEO William Ruprecht has brought out a number of short profiles of both men. Though none say much that will give you insight into the next phase of this battle.
What’s missing from the news cycle is any meaningful response from Sotheby’s. They installed a new CFO recently but seem to have done little on the communications front to outline a long term strategy that counterweights Third Point’s complaints.
Christie’s has a reasonably well-expressed two-pronged plan to grow private sales and online sales. Where’s Sotheby’s one-sentence business thesis?
Compounding this has been a lack vocal support for Ruprecht whose 13-year tenure in the job and frequent liquidation of stock whenever the share price reaches a certain level (a little below here) suggest a caretaker leadership role.
The Wall Street Journal captured this all in a shrugging quote from one of the art world’s most watched figures:
Jose Mugrabi, a major collector and dealer of works by Andy Warhol, said Mr. Ruprecht “could do more, but trying anything new in the art market takes a lot of risk—and you never know how much the market will give you in return.”
A Clash of World’s for Sotheby’s Genteel Boss (Wall Street Journal)