Sotheby's nicks CEO from Madison Square Garden

Mon Mar 16, 2015 12:36pm EDT
 
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By Sruthi Ramakrishnan

(Reuters) - Auction house Sotheby's appointed Madison Square Garden Co Chief Executive Tad Smith its CEO, a surprise development that could delay the plans of the owner of the New York Knicks to spin off its live entertainment business.

Sotheby's said on Monday that Smith, who has led Madison Square Garden for just a year, would replace William Ruprecht on March 31.

Madison Square Garden's shares fell 1.4 pct in morning trading, while Sotheby's shares rose 1 percent.

Smith has about 25 years of experience, mostly in the media and entertainment business.

He joined Madison Square Garden, which also owns New York Rangers ice hockey team, from Cablevision Systems Corp, whose CEO James Dolan is the chairman of Madison Square Garden.

Previously, Smith had led Starwood Hotels & Resorts Ltd's online business, experience that could help Sotheby's catch up with privately owned Christie's in online auctions.

"Smith brings what shareholders want, broad-reaching 'business' experience rather than luxury or art experience which is what (Sotheby's) brand and experts already have," Stifel, Nicolaus & Co analyst David Schick wrote in a note on Monday.

Ruprecht, a 35-year Sotheby's veteran, had been CEO since 2000. The centuries-old company said in November that Ruprecht would step down once a successor was found.   Continued...

 
Sotheby's employees pose with "Le Grand Canal", painted by Claude Monet, at Sotheby's preview in London January 28, 2015.  REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth