‘Still Life, Vase with Daisies, and Poppies,’ by Vincent Van Gogh from 1890 at Sotheby's auction house in London.
Photograph by Suzanne Plunkett — Reuters
By Benjamin Snyder
November 20, 2014

Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht is stepping down from the auction house after 14 years on the job following calls for his ouster by investor Dan Loeb.

Sotheby’s gave no reason for his resignation other than to say he “will step down by mutual agreement with the board.”

Last year, activist investor Loeb, who leads Third Point hedge fund, called for the auction house to remove Ruprecht as part of a campaign to make the company more profitable. Loeb ultimately joined an expanded Sotheby’s board after a nasty proxy fight that ended with a settlement between the two sides.

In July, Sotheby’s agreed to lay off of a small number of its workforce in a move that seemed aimed at appeasing Loeb, who had wanted the venerable auction house to cut costs.

Domenico De Sole, the lead independent director who will head the search committee for a new CEO, said the company is focused on a “smooth transition” in the upcoming months. Ruprecht will stay on as CEO until a successor is found, according to Sotheby’s.

“We are moving with a sense of urgency but we will take the time we need to find the right leader for Sotheby’s at this critical juncture in its continuing evolution,” he said.

In a statement, Ruprecht said “this is an exciting time for this great company, as we continue to capitalize on robust global demand in our salesrooms and increasingly online.”

After the announcement, the company’s shares (BID) rose over 7% in after-hours trading to $42 per share.


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