Charles Moffett, a former executive vice president and vice chairman of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Worldwide, died this week, aged 70, at his home on Fishers Island.
Moffett, who entered the trade after a long and distinguished career as a curator, had worked at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He was the director of the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC from 1992 to 1998.
Moffett’s first show at the Met, as a guest curator in 1973, was the one-room exhibition, Van Gogh as Critic and Self-Critic.
“Those of us fortunate enough to have worked with Charlie will remember him for his energy, humor and commitment to the many projects he undertook—extraordinary exhibitions, many of which would be difficult, if not impossible, to repeat today,” said Keith Christiansen, the chairman of the department of European paintings at the Met.
Moffett was at Sotheby’s from 1998 until his retirement last year. Known, among many other things, for taking the winning bid of more than $120m on the telephone for Edvard Munch’s Scream in 2013, he had recently formed a private consulting firm, CSM Research LLC, to advise collectors and museums.
In a message to colleagues today, Sotheby’s chief executive Tad Smith wrote: “Charlie was a leader in our market, a leader in our organisation, a leader among our clients, and the perfect gentleman and scholar.”