Well this is certainly an unexpected bit of summer news: Eric Shiner, the director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, is joining Sotheby’s as a senior vice president in its fine art division, the New York Times reports. That new department is headed up by Amy Cappellazzo and Allan Schwartzman, who joined the house earlier this year, along with their advisory firm, Art Agency, Partners, in a high-profile deal that could be worth as much as $85 million, depending on the unit’s performance.
Shiner has been with the Warhol Museum since 2008, when he joined as curator of art. He was named the director of the museum on July 8, 2011, meaning that tomorrow will be his five-year anniversary of officially leading the institution. (After its previous director, Tom Sokolowski, stepped down in 2010, Shiner served for a stretch as acting director.) “There is probably not a greater Warhol expert on the planet,” Cappellazzo told the Times, explaining the hire, and added, “Eric has always had entrepreneurial thinking.”
Moves between the nonprofit museum world and the commercial side of the art game are rare. Perhaps the most-high-profile example came in 2007, when Lisa Dennison, at the time the director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim left the museum after 29 years to join Sotheby’s, where she is its chairman of North and South America. Jeffrey Deitch is another notable case, having pulled off the unique feat of going from the commercial sector to the nonprofit sector (to lead the then-beleaguered Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2010) and then back again to dealing art, in New York in 2013.
“There’s much more porosity in the art world now between the market, the collector base, galleries, and the nonprofit world of museums,” Shiner told the Times. “So it seemed like a natural transition.” At the risk of inflicting a frequently recycled quotation on you, dear reader, it is probably worth noting that Warhol says in his 1975 book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”