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Nation’s ‘Oldest Wine Shop’ Hires New Top Lawyer from Sotheby’s

Oct. 21, 2020, 10:00 AM

Wine retailer and auctioneer Acker Merrall & Condit has hired former Sotheby’s lawyer Stacey Sigda as general counsel in what it said has been a year of growth amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Founded in 1820, Acker bills itself as the “the oldest wine shop in America,” and it also operates as an international wine auction house with locations in New York and Hong Kong. In an Acker auction earlier this year, a set of six bottles of wine fetched over $198,000, though Acker’s retail locations and online store also sell wine for as low as $16 per bottle.

Sigda joins Acker after over two decades with Sotheby’s, most recently as senior vice president, associate general counsel, and global employment counsel for the New York-based fine arts broker.

“I’m looking forward to bringing my experience to this already stellar organization, overseeing its many arms of international business,” Sigda said in an Oct. 20 statement.

Sigda is the most recent addition to New York-based Acker’s leadership. Earlier this month, Acker announced the additions of Jamie Pollack as its global managing director of business development and sales and Alicia Martell as global head of authentication and quality control.

Acker’s Actions

Pollack and Martell were hired from Acker competitor Zachys Fine Wine, where Pollack worked as the wine auction director and Martell held the role of director of auction operations.

“These hires comprise part of Acker’s strategic plan to continue propelling its business to the forefront of the fine and rare wine industry,” the company said in the statement announcing Sigda’s appointment.

Acker said it has had a strong year so far despite global economic setbacks brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company opened offices in London and Denmark earlier this year and expanded its U.S. operations to Delaware.

Acker said its wine auctions, now online, have seen an increase in participants despite the ongoing pandemic.

The company ended the first half of the year’s auctions with an online auction in New York that totaled $3.2 million in sales, according to a June 30 statement, bringing the company’s total sales to over $50 million for the first half of 2020.

“The initial six months of 2020 showed that buyers continued their hunt for fine wine at an even greater rate, with a 33% increase in the number of overall bidders in auctions over the first six months of 2020, compared with 2019,” the company said in the statement.

Last month, Acker launched another offering for oenophiles, an “All-Stars Uncorked” virtual wine tasting series featuring National Basketball Association players like Kyle Kuzma, J.J. Redick, and Carmelo Anthony.

Shakeups at Sotheby’s

According to Acker, Sigda helped facilitate the $2.7 billion acquisition of Sotheby’s by French entrepreneur and art collector Patrick Drahi last October, taking the company private after three decades of public trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

She is the most recent Sotheby’s lawyer to leave the famous auction house following Drahi’s acquisition.

Sotheby’s former global general counsel Jonathan Olsoff, global chief compliance counsel and head of government and regulatory affairs Jane Levine, and chief commercial officer John Cahill all left the company in late 2019. Senior transactional lawyer in Sotheby’s lending and finance arm Vladimir Kleyman also left in February.

Sotheby’s hired Marco DeSanto as general counsel and promoted Cecilia Fletcher to worldwide head of compliance earlier this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ruiqi Chen in Washington, D.C. at rchen@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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