In a little more than a year, Domenico de Sole has joined Sotheby’s, pushed out the former CEO and installed his own man while taking the role of Chairman and clearly the reins at the company. With a phenomenally successful career in the luxury business, experience working for Francois Pinault and ties to Simon de Pury, de Sole would seem the ideal leader for the auction house.
Here’s the Wall Street Journal profiling him almost a year before he joined Sotheby’s board:
The secret to their seamless collaboration, it seems, is that De Sole regards the design process with a respect bordering on mysticism. “It’s very interesting working with creative people because they can see things that other people cannot see,” he says. “It’s one thing to know if a collection will sell or not sell, it’s another thing to be able to design one. I know what I know, and I know what I don’t know.” What he does know is how to cultivate a brand.
And yet. For the task at hand, charting a new strategy for the auction house as either an independent company or selling it to a strategic buyer, the 70 year old de Sole doesn’t seem like the visionary the activist investors agitated for. That might explain the recent public stance of Marcato Capital whose head, Mick McGuire, has been calling for Sotheby’s to fulfill its commitment to return capital.