In its just released announcement (not online) of the imminent departure of Amy Cappellazzo from her position as Christie’s international chairman of Post-War & Contemporary development, the auction house made it clear that this was not a cutting-of-ties.
The press release included this remark by Cappellazzo:
I will soon embark on a private venture aimed at fully serving the needs of collectors in today’s changing art market. I look forward to expanding my working relationships with the Christie’s team [emphasis added] in my next venture.
Until 2011, Cappellazzo had been Christies’ co-head of Post-War & Contemporary art, a position now unilaterally held by Brett Gorvy. In my recent post on the lopsided win of Christie’s over Sotheby’s in the latest round of Contemporary evening sales, I had deliberately left out one comment by Gorvy, because I thought it was unfair to Sotheby’s (which, like Christie’s, had several veteran staffers on its Contemporary team).
Gorvy had attributed Christie’s success, in part, to this:
I’ve been doing this at Christie’s for 20 years. For most of the 20 years, my senior team has been with me. I think as an international team, we’ve created something.
Now that “senior team” has lost a key player, who for many years was the public face of Christie’s Contemporary department, speaking on panels and giving frequent interviews. Chic and cheeky, she will be forever remembered for her widely publicized, dealer-baiting comment that auction houses were analogous to “the big-box retailers, putting the mom-and-pops out of business.”
Here’s what Brett said about Amy’s departure, as quoted in today’s press release:
For over 13 years, Amy has brought her incredible energy and unique presence to the Post-War and Contemporary market….Amy defined the dynamic and innovative spirit of our department, breaking new ground for the company on a global platform. She has helped bring a contemporary edge to our constantly evolving world, and her friendships with artists, curators, dealers and her personal relationships with collectors have contributed to our international leadership of the market, season after season.
We will miss her passion and the gutsy way she approached every opportunity. She remains a good friend and a champion of Christie’s, and a partner to many of us as she follows her new future.
Christie’s announcement that Cappellazzo would leave “after the London auctions in February, to pursue her career outside the company” came just three weeks after the much more abrupt and perfunctory departure of Tobias Meyer from his long-time post as Sotheby’s worldwide head of Contemporary art.
Maybe the former rivals, both of whom have expressed interest in working with collectors privately, should set up shop together! (Somehow, I doubt that’s gonna happen.)