The board of directors of Sothebys announced the appointment of Tad Smith as its next president and CEO starting March 31, 2015.

Smith will replace William Ruprecht, who served as CEO of the international auction company since 2000.  Last year, Ruprecht said he will vacate his position once the board names his replacement. He initiated the expansion of Sothebys in China, the Middle East as well as online.

Ruprecht decided to step down after activist investor Dan Loeb criticized the entrenched board of Sothebys for lack of fresh perspectives necessary to overhaul its challenging operational structure and fix its culture. Loeb is now a member of the board of Sothebys.

Sothebys

Smith previously served as president and CEO of the Madison Square Garden since February 2014. During his tenure, he supervised the overall strategy and daily operations of the MSG Entertainment, MSG Media and MSG Sports.

Commenting on his appointment, Smith said, With its strong relationship in the art world, trusted brand, and exceptional team; Sothebys has a very bright future… I look forward to tapping my experiences from related industries to help develop and implement its growth strategy, accelerate adoption of new technologies, allocate capital effectively, and drive the creation of sustainable shareholder value in the coming years.

Sothebys separated roles of Chairman and CEO

Sothebys also announced its decision to separate the roles of the chairman and CEO. The board of directors of the company elected its lead independent director Domenico De Sole to succeed Ruprecht as chairman.

De Sole said Smith’s appointment was the result of a thorough search process, and the members of Sothebys’ board were unanimous in their view that he is the ideal CEO for the company.

According to De Sole, Smith is a proven leader and value creator with CEO experience, strategic vision and brand-building expertise. He can also understand and serve client needs, and he has a track record of driving revenue and profit growth. He also noted that Smith has a passion for art and collectibles.

Sothebys pressured by Marcato Capital

Mick McGuire’s Marcato Capital is pressuring the board of Sothebys to implement an immediate stock buyback worth $500 million. It is also demanding pushing the company to remove Patrick McClaymon as chief financial officer.

The shares of Sothebys rose more than 1% to $41 per share at the time of this writing around 12:02 in the afternoon on New York.