Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Going, going. Gone.

The resignation of Sophie Coupland from Webb’s has been in the air for a couple of weeks but she has now resigned her position as head of Webb’s Fine Art Department.  As of Monday the Webb’s staff list had no head of department for art which is surprising given their recent moves to make art their major focus. 

Coupland’s departure certainly marks the end of an era for Webb’s. She has knocked down a sack full of record prices for artists and from her position behind the rostrum seen the rise and rise of the contemporary art market since the wobbles of the last recession. It also sees the severing of Peter Webb’s final connection with the business that still bears his name.  Starting out with an auction company named Cordy’s (after Hamish Keith’s middle name) he later started Peter Webb Galleries that morphed into the auction house Webb’s. In 1990 when Peter Webb married Annie Coupland he gained a daughter who worked her way up through what was now the family business to take her place running the art department.

So with the departure of Coupland and Neil Campbell who was Managing Director, watch out for further big changes for Webb’s. Never shy to use statistics based on past auctions make its claim as the number one house in the country there's a big reputation to hold onto. It's going to take some inspired hires or a major step-up by the relatively inexperienced people left behind to do the job.