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.
Ahead of the company’s annual meeting on May 6, he would like to remind shareholders what those two problems are: 1. He (still) thinks management sucks and 2. In Loeb’s opinion, Team Sotheby’s knows dick about selling art. Read more »
Sotheby’s doesn’t just have an activist problem. It has a two-activists problem. The auction house faces one hedge fund manager— Daniel Loeb of Third Point LLC—loudly banging down the doors over its performance. Meanwhile, another hedge fund is working behind the doors to get the company to sell its physical home. That second hedge fund, Marcato Capital Management LLC, spelled out its arguments for the first time in a presentation to investors Wednesday evening. According to the presentation, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Marcato wants Sotheby’s to sell its New York and London properties and unlock the capital it uses in its smaller art financing and art dealing operations. The hedge fund, Sotheby’s third-largest shareholder, believes those moves could free up $1.3 billion in cash, enough to buy back nearly a third of the company’s stock…Richard “Mick” McGuire, the founder and managing member of Marcato, unveiled his thesis for boosting Sotheby’s stock price at the Excellence in Investing conference in San Francisco. [WSJ]
Sotheby’s Board Knows Even Less About Engaging With A Shareholder Than It Does About Contemporary Art: Third PointBy Bess Levin
As many of you well know, hedge fund manager Dan Loeb is famous for telling people how he really feels, occasionally via Bloomberg header but most often by good old-fashioned letter. Typically, the people on the receiving end of Loeb’s thoughts comprise the management of the companies his firm Third Point has amassed a stake in, and is attempting to oust. Over the years, CEOs and board members from Yahoo! to Sony to Nabi Biopharmaceuticals have received their own personalized missives, all of which have been classic Loeb: that potent, poetic blend of sarcasm, self-regard, belittling attacks on competence and a lengthy list of prescriptions for change. Yesterday, he added a new piece to the canon.
Let’s rewind for a moment.
A few months back, Loeb bought some shares in a company that he knows very well, auction house Sotheby’s, where he sold a large egg not too long ago. Given his long relationship with the company, Loeb thought he’d let that little bombshell sink in for a while, in hopes that the ignorami running Sotheby’s into the ground would come to their senses. Sadly, Team Sotheby’s, led by Chairman and CEO William Ruprecht, did not, and that left Loeb with no choice but to pick up his pen and get down to business. The result is a contemporary masterpiece. Read more »
Remember Joe Gregory? Former Lehman Brothers president? Used to commute to the office from Long Island via helicopter? Was publicly dressed down by Dick Fuld on at least one occasion for leaving the house wearing a hideous green suit? He voluntarily resigned in June 2008, and since he technically wasn’t on site when the firm bit the big one, felt he was entitled to $233 million in back pay. And yet, despite filing a claim for his money over four years ago, has seen not one dime! Presumably the estate will get to his case soon (Gregory’s claim remains outstanding, so there’s still hope) but in the meantime, Big G’s gotta put food on the table. He put his 15,000-square-foot home on the market last year for $22 million and now is holding a fire sale of all his furniture. Read more »