Art Basel executive Noah Horowitz joins Sotheby’s as Gallery Whisperer, latest sign of industry category collapse
Ever since Noah Horowitz stepped down as director of Art Basel for the Americas last month, the art world has been wondering where the intrepid ruler will end up next.
The guessing game is over. Horowitz left the art fair world and landed in an auction house. He will join Sotheby’s on September 20 in the newly created position of Global Head of Gallery and Private Dealer Services. He will report to Brooke Lampley, who was promoted earlier this year to President and Head of Global Sales of Sotheby’s Fine Art.
Horowitz will focus on strategy and strengthening Sotheby’s relationships with galleries and dealers, the company said. The news was first reported by Vanity Show.
The move comes at a time of tectonic changes in the art world, as companies try to find a way to expand their operations and expand their customer base. Galleries such as David Zwirner and Johann König have launched initiatives to gain market share in regional art fairs. Auction houses, which have encroached on dealer territory for years with private sales, have more recently experimented with different models to find their way into the primary market.
At the start of the pandemic last spring, Sotheby’s launched a digital sales platform for galleries called Sotheby’s Gallery Network. As part of the deal, he received a flat-rate commission based on sales, with all artwork available exclusively on the auction house’s website.
(Dealers have largely been silent on their experience with the platform, although some admitted sales have been minimal. Although the website currently lists 56 galleries as “participating,” it’s unclear how many are actively involved. Only seven dealers had any work listed at the time of publication, none of which were in the Top Notch cohort when it launched.)
In a statement, Lampley described “the importance of a healthy art market ecosystem in which auction houses, galleries, fairs, collectors and institutions all benefit from collaboration. With the arrival of Noah, we can serve the market on an even greater scale, bringing together all the capabilities that Sotheby’s has to offer to foster creative and rewarding collaborations.
Horowitz has worked closely with international galleries for at least a decade. Since 2015, he has directed Art Basel Miami Beach, the largest contemporary art fair in the United States. Prior to that, he revolved around The Struggling Armory Show for a four-year tenure as Executive Director. In doing so, he has won the trust of many art dealers, a major asset given that galleries generally view auction houses with suspicion, if not utter contempt.
“I’m thrilled for him,” said Tim Blum, co-owner of the Blum & Poe gallery. “He’s someone who at least cares about artists and galleries. He doesn’t posture. He spent a lot of time and energy traveling the world. He brings a more authentic and anchored approach to Sotheby’s.
Horowitz will also bring some firepower to Sotheby’s senior ranks, which have seen considerable turnover over the past year. “I am extremely happy to join Sotheby’s at this defining moment for our industry and look forward to leveraging the unique combination of talent, expertise, resources and digital know-how at your fingertips to create a new successful offer for today’s international and private galleries. dealer community, ”Horowitz said in a statement.
Sotheby’s has already tried to blur the lines between auctions and other services. He launched, then quietly shut down in 2018, a division designed to advise artist estates, what some saw as an effort to encroach on gallery turf and squeeze into the primary market.
“If the galleries are going to collaborate with anyone in the auction houses, it will be Noah bc for the quality of the relationships he has built during his time at Art Basel,” said Miami collector Dennis Scholl. “But it’s still a competitive industry.”
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