Christy MacLear, who left her post as CEO of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in late 2016 to join the Sotheby’s advisory Art Agency, Partners, is no longer serving in her role there, ARTnews has learned. She had left the Rauschenberg Foundation, where she began as the inaugural chief executive in 2010, to join Art Agency, Partners, as vice chairman, with a specialty in artist estates and foundations.
In an email to ARTnews on Monday, MacLear said, “It has always been my honor to work on planning legacies of artists—I took the leap to AAP/Sotheby’s to verify the need and then innovate in the field. We did that, and now it is time for me to work on behalf of artists independently after my non-compete period.”
Sotheby’s declined to comment on the nature of MacLear’s departure on Friday afternoon, and said in a statement:
We are grateful for Christy’s leadership as we expanded our advisory services to artists, artist estates and foundations and wish her much success in her future endeavours.
At the time of MacLear’s hiring, Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith said, “Expanding into advisory services for artists and artist endowed foundations is an exciting new frontier and we are thrilled that Christy is here to lead such an important initiative for us.”
Last October, Artnet News reported that under MacLear “Sotheby’s has been steadily building up its advisory service for artist estates. Art Agency, Partners, the auction house’s advisory arm, has signed on 12 clients in the nine months since launching the service, including those of sculptor Robert Graham and the artist Vito Acconci.” In February, Pace Gallery and AAP announced that they would collaborate on representation of the Acconci estate. And artist couple Eric Fischl and April Gornik were working with Art Agency, Partners on establishing a foundation.
Prior to stint at the Rauschenberg Foundation, MacLear served as executive director of the Philip Johnson Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut.
“We’re at a moment in history where artists have a great deal of wealth,” MacLear told Yale School of Management in April, speaking about her position at AAP. “You have a set of baby boomer artists who are aging and the use of their work and wealth can be directed more clearly by them and their families.”
Art Agency, Partners was founded in 2014 by art advisers Amy Cappellazzo and Allan Schwartzman, along with financial adviser Adam Chinn. In 2016, the New York Times reported that Sotheby’s paid “up to $85 million” for the firm.
It appears that MacClear will not be immediately replaced. Sotheby’s said in a statement, “We have a strong team under the leadership of Allan Schwartzman and Melissa Levin in place. As with all parts of our business, we will continuously evaluate our needs to ensure we have the right recipe for success.”
Schwartzman said, in a statement provided by a Sotheby’s spokesperson, “The business is moving forward in several directions in a healthy way—we are just beginning a second phase consultancy for several prominent artists of different generations regarding major museum placements; gallery affiliations; funding programs; and long-term legacy planning. There is increasing demand for our artist advisory services.”
Update, July 2, 1:20 p.m.: A quotation from MacLear has been added to this post.
Update, July 2, 3:30 p.m.: Comment from Schwartzman and additional remarks from Sotheby’s were added to this post.