Sotheby's worldwide head of contemporary art and chairman of contemporary art Europe
This time last year, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art and chief auctioneer Meyer was bringing his gavel down in New York on the biggest single auction in its 269-year history, raking in $375 million, with Mark Rothko’s painting No. 1 (Royal, Red and Blue) (1954) going for $75m. By contrast, London sales throughout the year proved strong, if not earth-shattering, but for Westphal – chairman of contemporary art Europe – the auction game may be changing anyway: in October, Sotheby’s expanded its S/2 private sales gallery format from New York to London, effectively muscling in on the business of gallerists and private dealers.
Private sales are a growth area for Sotheby’s, so S/2 London plans five selling shows a year. Sotheby’s shareholders seem to like it: the company’s shares have risen continuously, even while billionaire activist investor Dan Loeb has recently been gunning for Sotheby’s CEO William Ruprecht to step down.