Guillaume Cerutti has planned his public roll out around Christie’s 2017 results, his first full year as CEO. Earlier this week we what amounted to an earnings announcement (though without any indication of earnings at the private firm) complete with media availability. That gave the Financial Times’s Georgina Adam a chance to sit down with Cerutti and get his take on moving to London just as Brexit took hold, the Frenchman’s view of the future of Europe and whether a global art trading firm needs to be run from New York.
Along the way, Adam gives a little biographical background on the man who was trained to be a French civil servant but abjured banking and finance in favor of culture when he became the managing director of the Centre Pompidou in 1996. Then chairman, Jean-Jacques Aillagon became Cerutti’s mentor and patron when the two decamped to the Ministry of Culture with Aillagon the Minister and Cerutti his Chief of Staff.
“Guillaume is hugely competent, highly intelligent, rigorous but also warm-hearted,” Aillagon told me. “But he is also not intimidated when things get difficult.”
When Aillagon’s political fortunes failed, both he and Cerutti went into the private sector. Aillagon become head of TV5 Monde and, when approached for a post at Sotheby’s recommended Cerutti:
Cerutti spent eight years at Sotheby’s, bringing in new blood and hauling the company up from number four to number one in France.
I ask him about moving from the public to the private sector. “I had already learned how ruthless and unfair politics could be,” says Cerutti, “so I was well prepared to work under pressure with financial targets and goals. The real change for me was moving from a Franco-centric organisation to a private international firm.”
Guillaume Cerutti — the king of King Street (Financial Times)