Leslie Hindman stepping back as CEO
June 5th, 2018
Leslie Hindman is retiring from the eponymous auction house she founded in 1982. The company has appointed Thomas Galbraith as CEO.
“I’m going to continue to help build the firm but am stepping back from day to day management of people,” she told me. “Thomas is terrific!”
Hindman is an astute businesswoman and a force on the culture scene.
She grew up in the suburbs but enjoyed summers in France and Belgium, living with families who exposed her to culture and the arts.
In 1978, she landed an assistant job working for a female auctioneer at Sotheby’s in Chicago.
Hindman earned just $8,700 a year, but she was hooked. When Sotheby’s stopped auctioning in Chicago a few years later, Hindman set up her own auction house. She was 28.
In 1991, an assistant spotted a Van Gogh still life with flowers while helping a Milwaukee couple clear out piles of paintings. The Van Gogh went for $1.43 million, a record price at the time for a painting.
Hindman’s auction house never looked back, and she became a force in a male-dominated industry.
Business became so big that Sotheby’s bought her out in the 1990s.
Hindman stayed with Sotheby’s until she was ready to go out on her own again, this time with an even bigger auction house.
Her auctions made headlines for auctioning everything from a lock of Elvis’ hair to Oprah Winfrey’s sunglasses. She even held an auction in the old Comiskey Park. And of course there are thousands upon thousands of artwork, furniture, jewelry, clothing that have been sold in auctions. And because Hindman adapted well to the internet, the company is global.
The management shift follows a private equity investment that positions the auction house for aggressive growth.
With a history like that, Hindman wouldn’t turn the reins over to just anyone.
Galbraith has his own rich story. He co-founded The Petraeus Group consulting firm in 2010. The company worked with numerous companies, luxury brands and venture capital firms. He also served as managing director of Paddle8,an online auction house based in New York, and was director of global strategy for Artnet. He most recently appointed interim CEO by the board of Twyla, a Google Ventures backed startup.
“Leslie has built a formidable organization and I very much look forward to working with the talented team and bringing a new level of innovation to the industry,” Galbraith said in a statement about his appointment.