Melanie Clore to leave Sotheby’s at the end of February

Decision by respected Impressionist and Modern art specialist, after 35 years of passion and loyalty, comes as a surprise

by Melanie Gerlis  |  15 February 2016
Melanie Clore to leave Sotheby’s at the end of February
Melanie Clore is leaving Sotheby's at the end of February
Melanie Clore, Sotheby’s hugely respected co-chairman of Impressionist and Modern art and chairman of its business in Europe, is leaving at the end of February after 35 years at the auction house.

The decision surprised many who know and have worked with her. “She was a lifer there,” says Alexander Platon, now a senior director at Marlborough Fine Art gallery and previously head of private sales for Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art department in Europe. “She was the heart and soul of the whole European business, not just her department,” he adds.

Clore says her decision was made in November 2015, before Sotheby’s announced it had bought the art advisory firm Art Agency, Partners (AAP) in January in a deal worth up to $85m. AAP’s Amy Cappellazzo and Allan Schwartzman now head a newly-formed division at Sotheby’s that encompasses its 20th- and 21st-century art business.

Clore’s rise from a graduate trainee on the front counter of Sotheby’s in 1981 to becoming its European chairman 30 years later has been well documented. In 1990 she became the first female auctioneer to take an evening sale and has frequently been responsible—via the telephone—for placing clients’ top-level bids during landmark auctions. Clore was “instrumental”, according to Sotheby’s, in helping to close the sale of Lucian Freud’s Pregnant Girl (1960-61), which sold on Wednesday, 10 February, for a hammer price of £14.2m (£16.1m with premium, estimate £7m-£10m).

Clore’s next move is not known, though she is expected to continue to offer advice to her closest clients. “”I decided it was the perfect time to hand over the baton and move to the next stage in my career,” she says in a statement.

Maarten ten Holder, the managing director of Sotheby’s Europe, says that Clore’s “expertise, dynamism, integrity and passion have left an enduring and positive impact on our brand. We thank her for all that she has achieved and wish her the best for the future.”

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