Adam Chinn's new role with the Mugrabi family may be a harbinger of bigger changes on the art market's supply side.
This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
A few weeks before the May cycle of art auctions began in New York, Josh Baer rolled a grenade into the gathering art market. He published a laconic announcement that Adam Chinn, Sotheby’s former Chief Operating Officer, had “taken a position” with the Mugrabi family.
The blow was softened a few days later when Chinn made the rounds with David Mugrabi. At the auction house previews, Chinn volubly greeted old colleagues, former rivals and a plethora of new and old business contacts. The auctions themselves drowned out speculation about Chinn’s future role. Today there was news of Chinn’s first move, an alliance with Olyvia Kwok, the art advisor with Asian clients. That renews the question: What effect will it have on the art market when Sotheby’s former chief deal-maker teams up with one of the biggest clients for both auction houses?
Because David Mugrabi remains entangled in a prolonged divorce from his fractious wife, Libbie, many assumed that Chinn was joining the family to act as an internal legal advisor. After all, Chinn cut his teeth as an aggressive deal attorney. But no one seriously believes José Mugrabi would have been foolish enough to place any of the family’s art, its most important asset, into a legal entity that might be at risk in David’s divorce. After all, the family still does business as Fashion Concepts, Inc. a corporate entity that harks back to José’s original trading in textiles.
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