Back in October, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb sent a letter William Ruprecht, to the CEO of Sotheby’s, in which he made the following points:
- Sotheby’s is completely ignorant about contemporary art
- Ruprecht is overpaid
- Sotheby’s is a joke compared to Christie’s
- In spite of all this, Sotheby’s future can be salvaged, but it’ll take firing Ruprecht and adding Loeb and a few directors of Loeb’s choice to the board
Shockingly, Sotheby’s did not appreciate the constructive criticism, and adopted a poison pill to ward off Loeb and Co. Last week, Loeb reiterated his position in an open letter to Sotheby’s shareholders, in which he underscored that, in his professional opinion, the auction house knows nothing about selling art. (He also reminded them to vote Loeb ’14 at the company’s annual meeting in May.)
Team Sotheby’s, apparently sick of Loeb’s shit, did what any corporate entity does when it’s decided its done play Mr. Nice Guy: assembled its top men and women in a conference room and declared that no one could leave until they’d come up with a 53-slide PowerPoint rebuttal.
Said rebuttal can be viewed in its entirety here, but it mostly boils down to:
But Sotheby’s is not the only organization with a graphics department willing to work overtime! Knocking the ball back uptown is Third Point with Value Sotheby’s, a website wherein Loeb et al makes their case re: why shareholders should listen to them (de rigeur these days with the activist investing set). There are a lot of words on a lot of pages, but they’ll let their contemporary Photoshop talk for them:
We’ll keep you posted as this story develops.