The auction house is eliminating the Chief Operating Officer's role
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Sotheby’s Chief Operating Officer to Leave at Year’s End
The news today that Adam Chinn’s role of Chief Operating Officer was being eliminated with his duties to be divided between art lawyer John Cahill assuming the Chief Commercial Officer’s role and Ken Citron coming in as head of operations gave many in the art market a shock. Chinn had joined the auction house three years ago when Sotheby’s paid $50m (+ a $35m bonus) for Art Agency, Partners, the consultancy he formed with Allan Schwartzman and Amy Cappellazzo. The acquisition was seen as a way to diversify Sotheby’s business while adding to the bench of senior management.
A year later that strategy seemed to be validated when Chinn was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Not terribly long after, AAP hit its performance targets earning the APP principals the full $85m acquisition fee. Chinn’s 20% share of AAP would have yielded him $17m upon which he would pay tax at the capital gains rate, as one former Sotheby’s employee points out.
Chinn had only joined AAP a year before the acquisition and had no formal role in the art market prior to that. He came to the art business from investment banking and corporate law, two fields where self-confidence is not in short supply and aggressive behavior is rewarded.
Chinn’s primary role running Sotheby’s guarantee book and signing off on the firm’s major deals requires someone who is a “street-fighting killer.” By all accounts, Chinn was that … and more.
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