A. Alfred Taubman, 1924–2015

The former Sotheby’s owner and mall developer has died

A. Alfred Taubman, art collector, shopping mall developer and owner of Sotheby’s for 22 years, has died at the age of 91, the New York Times reports.

In 1983, Taubman bought Sotheby’s, which had fallen on hard times, and turned it into the modern auction house and art retailer it is today. Almost 20 years later however, Taubman was convicted with his Christie’s counterpart Sir Anthony Tennant, for fixing auction house commission rates in order to maximise profits, and spent 9 and a half months in prison.

Taubman, whose business interests included real estate, A&W root beer, movie theatres, office and apartment towers, department stores and shopping malls, also collected old masters and 19th- and 20th-century art and was on the board of several cultural organisations. Known for his flair for retail, he once claimed that ‘Selling art has much in common with selling root beer. People don’t need root beer, and they don’t need to buy a painting, either. We provide them a sense that it will give them a happier experience.’

20 April 2015.