On Tuesday, Sotheby’s announced the departure of Allan Schwartzman, the principal at Art Agency, Partners, Sotheby’s advisory firm. Schwartzman will take on a new role as a strategic consultant as Sotheby’s announced plans to expand advisory services under the direction of Nina del Rio, Sotheby’s vice chairman of Americas and head of museum, private, and corporate art services.
In a statement regarding the shift, Sotheby’s noted the chairman’s departure coincides with his pursuit “to develop new, independent ventures he has envisioned for a changing art world.” The firm also noted vague plans to further develop its advisory services adding “in the coming months, Sotheby’s will begin offering an expanded suite of advisory services to both new and mature art enthusiasts as well as organizations and institutions, at varied price points and across all collecting categories.”
Sotheby’s CEO Charles F. Stewart said “we congratulate Nina del Rio on her expanded role at the company and her collaboration with Allan in lifting our advisory group to even greater heights.” del Rio has been with the firm since 1988 in various departments, and has served in her current position as vice chairman of Americas since 2003 directing the museum, private, and corporate services division. The sector is dedicated to advisory services for institutional and corporate clients like Bank of America, CBS, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Credit Suisse.
“My time at Sotheby’s has been one of the most creative and rewarding periods of my professional life,” Schwartzman said. “In recent months, however, I have become increasingly committed to ventures I’ve imagined that can only be carried out independently.”
A leading figure in the contemporary art world with a proven advising acumen, Schwartzman has been a pillar in the expansion of Sotheby’s powerful Fine Art Division. He served as principal of Art Agency, Partners which he cofounded with partners Amy Cappellazzo, executive vice president and chairman of Sotheby’s Fine Art Division, before the group was acquired by Sotheby’s in 2016 in an $85 million deal. The acquisition of the boutique advisory firm was a major indication of changes to the business model that would incorporate art, legal, and estate advisory under a unified division.
At the time, the purchase of the newly established firm raised questions as to whether or not the auction house’s attempt to expand client services mimicking that of a financial institution would be successful in managing a series of delicate conflicts of interest. Schwartzman’s departure leaves only one of the three original AAP cofounders at Sotheby’s. The original deal to acquire AAP included five-year contracts for Schwartzman; Adam Chinn, who left at the end of 2018; and Amy Cappellazzo, who remains as chairman of the Fine Art Division.