As restructuring begins at Sotheby’s, following a string of high-profile defections, including, last week, contemporary art head Cheyenne Westphal, the company has looked within its ranks to rebuild the leadership. This morning Oliver Barker, the contemporary specialist and auctioneer, and Mario Tavella, the président-directeur général of Sotheby’s France, will both become European cochairmen of the auction house. They’ll be joining Philip Württemberg, who’s been a cochairman in Europe since 2011.
The rejiggering of Sotheby’s top leadership has been expected since voluntary layoffs led to an exodus of more than 80 employees, and with major exits such as Alex Rotter, cohead of the contemporary department, and David Norman, vice president of Sotheby’s Americas. Barker and Tavella are effectively filling the shoes of Henry Wyndham, who last February left his role as European chairman after two decades in that position, and Melanie Clore, who left her position as European chairman in February after 35 years at the auction house.
The press release also passed along details of something called the European Strategy Board, a 13-member organization that will “help drive strategy for the company’s future growth, not only in the UK and Continental Europe, but also across the Middle East, India and Africa.”