Ron Rivlin, July 25, 2016
On Tuesday July 7th, it was reported that the current director of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Eric Shiner, announced he will be leaving his position later this summer 2016 and will begin working for Sotheby’s as the Senior Vice President of the New Fine Art Division focusing on private sales. For many, it comes across as a strange move that would only benefit Shiner, Sotheby’s, and private collectors, but not the public. Being at the Andy Warhol Museum for eight years and having served as the museum’s director for the last five years, the connoisseurship, knowledge, and prestige Shine possess puts Sotheby’s at an advantage to becoming the leading auction house for Warhol works of any medium.
While many are perplexed by Shiner’s drastic decision (as the non-profit and for profit world generally do not mix), Shiner maintains that Warhol himself would have justified the transition. Pointing out his long history with Warhol, an artist known for undermining the business/art divide, Shiner explainins that the move was “a very natural thing for me specifically. I tend to blur those lines as well in a lot of ways.”’(Kaplan, I. “Eric Shiner Leaves Andy Warhol Museum to Bring More Marilyns to Sotheby’s.” Artsy. Web. 7 July 2016). Shiner’s knowledge of Warhol speaks to the impact Warhol’s philosophy had on him.
“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” – Andy Warhol
While Warhol’s works continue to fetch record prices at art auctions, Shiner’s mission to and position of working with private buyers may make it harder for Warhol’s works to end up in museums and in public view. In the press release from the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburg about Shiner, he is quoted as saying, “I hope to further promote the legacy of Andy Warhol, the father of contemporary art, in the market and beyond in my new position at Sotheby’s, while also creating new legacies for those that follow him”. It is safe to say that Warhol needs no promotion of any kind, as his presence in the art world has yet to slow down. While it is impossible to predict what will happen at Sotheby’s when Shiner arrives, a sharp increase in Warhol’s prices is expected, due to the level of expertise and Shiner’s rolodex of potential clients.
In regards to the Andy Warhol Museum, we are patiently awaiting the appointment of the new museum Director to see what path the museum takes.