Wyndham, one of the best-known figures in the auction world and one of Sotheby’s most important ambassadors, is leaving the firm after 22 years.
The company’s senior auctioneer gave a rousing final appearance on the rostrum last week at the sale of the personal collection of Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire.
Applause broke out both at the start and the end of the event as members of Sotheby’s staff crammed into the saleroom alongside the bidders to show their appreciation.
ATG understands he had been contemplating leaving for at least a year and is planning to take some time out travelling.
However, he leaves big shoes to fill and the timing of his departure comes as the full impact of the company’s restructuring plan and voluntary redundancy scheme is being felt. Sotheby’s are yet to announce who will be replacing Wyndham, both in his role as chairman of Sotheby’s Europe and as auctioneer for the firm’s flagship sales in both London and New York.
The news follows the departure of Melanie Clore, European chairman and co-chairman of Impressionist & Modern art, who left the company at the end of February.
Two high-ranking New York Contemporary art specialists are also heading for the exit.
David Norman, the vice chairman of Sotheby’s Americas and co-chairman of their global Impressionist & Modern Art department, who joined the firm in 1985, will leave after the May auction series.
Alex Rotter, co-head of Sotheby’s global Contemporary Art department, who had been at the company for 16 years after starting as an intern, will leave later this month.
One appointment the firm have announced is that of Michael Goss as executive vice president and chief financial officer.
He will assume his new role at the end of March, replacing Patrick McClymont, who left in December.
Goss, 56, was a partner and managing director at Bain Capital from 2001-13.
Meanwhile, Sotheby’s latest results showed that their net income for 2015 had flat growth compared to 2014 ($143m compared to $142m). Their net auction sales fell 3%, mainly due to the impact of foreign currency exchange rates.
While preliminary figures for the first-quarter sales for 2016 show sales down, chief executive Tad Smith said in a conference call: “The market is a little tighter on consignments as people are in a wait-and-see mode.”