Daniel Loeb keeps up pressure on Sotheby's

Daniel Loeb keeps up pressure on Sotheby's
Southeby's Auction House in New York. (Jim Cooper / For The Times)

Daniel Loeb, the lightening-rod hedge-fund manager, continued his assault on Sotheby's this week with a letter to the art auction house's shareholders asking them to vote for a new slate of board members that would include Loeb himself.

In the letter, which was sent on Monday, Loeb states that "this board is in dire need of fresh insights, and that our candidates are more qualified than the company's emissaries we are seeking to replace."

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Loeb runs the hedge fund Third Point, which is the largest shareholder of Sotheby's. His letter came as a response to one sent by Sotheby's to its shareholders saying that Third Point has been misleading them and that the auction house's board nominees are a better choice.

Sotheby's had previously offered to appoint Loeb to the board, but he has insisted the company name him and two others he chooses to the board.

The auction house has seen its stock plummet in recent months. For the year, shares of Sotheby's are down more than 20%.

Loeb's letter to Sotheby's this week comes several months after he called for the ouster of Sotheby's Chief Executive William Ruprecht.

In an October letter, Loeb said that Ruprecht has failed to lead "the business forward in today's art market. It is apparent to us from our meeting that you do not fully grasp the central importance of contemporary and modern art to the company's growth strategy."

Loeb has been making waves in the entertainment industry recently with his aggressive brand of shareholder activism, having riled Hollywood with his call for a shake-up at Sony following a number of box-office flops last year.

Loeb is a trustee of Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art and contributes to other nonprofit organizations.

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