Sotheby`s Legal Team

Sanoj Stephen joined Sotheby`s International Realty in 2004 and has served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the brand`s proprietary brokerage business since 2006. In November 2019, he also took on the responsibility of advising the brand`s franchisors unit. He heads the company`s legal department and is responsible for all legal matters concerning the company. Stephen works closely with senior management, advising on corporate strategy, corporate transactions, brand identity standards, affiliate relations, litigation and regulatory matters. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Scholastic Inc., a former leading lawyer and former in-house counsel at Sotheby`s, has joined estate planning technology startup Vanilla as general counsel. Pacific Sotheby`s International Realty, one of Sotheby`s International Realty`s largest franchises in the brand`s global network, announces the strategic appointment of Victoria Boynton as General Counsel for the San Diego region. In this role, she will work with Jim Stein, the firm`s general counsel in the Orange County and desert markets, to advise the management team on corporate strategy and manage all compliance, process and transaction oversight. Federal-Mogul hired DeSanto as co-general counsel with Michelle Taigman in 2016 after former general counsel Brett Pynnonen, now general counsel at auto parts giant Visteon Corp. DeSanto was also chief compliance officer at Federal-Mogul, where Taigman served as corporate secretary.

Today, she is General Counsel at Harman International Industries Inc. “Victoria comes to us with distinguished experience in real estate and commercial law and is highly regarded in our industry,” said Brian Arrington, CEO of Pacific Sotheby`s International Realty. “His extensive legal and commercial expertise combined with his leadership style is a fit for our new management team. His passion for education, mentoring and leading real estate agents will add significant value to our business. Sotheby`s has a long history of employing lawyers in roles outside its legal group. Kevin Ching, a former partner at Johnson Stokes & Master, a Hong Kong-based law firm now part of Mayer Brown, has been CEO of Sotheby`s Asia since 2006. Adam Chinn, a former partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, was chief operating officer of Sotheby`s for nearly two years until he left the company at the end of 2018. DeSanto began his legal career in the mid-1990s at the Michigan-based law firm Warner Norcross & Judd before leaving private practice in 2005 to take up a number of internal positions at German auto giant Daimler AG. From 2012 to 2016, DeSanto served as General Counsel for North America at Atlanta-based Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, the leading U.S. passenger car distributor owned by Daimler. DeSanto spent last year as senior vice president of legal affairs at Tenneco in Southfield, Michigan, a Detroit suburb where Federal-Mogul was based prior to its $5.4 billion sale to Tenneco that closed in October 2018.

Sotheby`s also hired Herrick`s former art law partner, Feinstein, Mari-Claudia Jiménez, as managing director of its fiduciary client group and valuation team in late 2016. She now leads this unit, which, according to the company`s website, “provides concierge services to trustees, executors and beneficiaries” seeking assistance with “the valuation and disposal of tangible personal property.” Aimée Scala joins the Los Angeles firm as a partner, which left a long-standing editorial position at Artforum to begin her legal career in New York at Cahill Cossu before establishing an arts, entertainment and intellectual property practice in Los Angeles. Pamela L. Grutman focuses on tax, estate planning, nonprofits, philanthropy and artistic legacy and will be based in New York City, where she earned her LLM in Tax from NYU School of Law. Grutman, who also has a degree in architecture, is a member of the bars of New York, Florida and New Jersey. Sotheby`s installed new legal and compliance officers two months after the overhaul of its management. Prior to joining Sotheby`s International Realty, Stephen was corporate counsel in New York at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, LLP, where he held public positions and advised private companies. Through a pro bono initiative between Kramer Levin and South Brooklyn Legal Services, he has worked as a litigator in the legal department, representing clients in housing courts and various state government proceedings. Stephen also worked in the General Counsel office of Newmark & Company Real Estate, Inc. and the New York offices of Ropes & Gray LLP (formerly known as Reboul, MacMurray, Hewitt, Maynard & Kristol). Today, the couple announced the founding of Olsoff | Cahill | Cossu LLP, an art law firm that brings Olsoff and Cahill together with Cahill`s former private practice colleague Paul Cossu, who was most recently a partner at Pryor Cashman.

The new company will operate in New York, Los Angeles, London and Zurich. Karen Nachbar advised Vanilla, a client of her solo consulting firm, before joining the Los Angeles-based real estate planning firm as a GC. Olsoff and Cahill met in February and founded the New York art law boutique Olsoff Cahill Ossu. Bloomberg Law also reported last month that Vladimir Kleyman, a senior lawyer specializing in transactions in Sotheby`s lending and finance arm, would become the first general counsel for on-demand paid startup DailyPay Inc. Kleyman said his departure had nothing to do with the sale of Sotheby`s and its subsequent reorganization. Karen Nachbar revealed in a LinkedIn post that she decided to “return to the life of GC with one of my clients” after recently opening a solo private consulting practice for e-commerce and technology companies. Prior to joining Pacific Sotheby`s International Realty, Boynton was legal counsel at Larson & Solecki LLP, a real estate and commercial law firm whose clients include real estate and related businesses, business owners, real estate agents, agents and large litigation firms. Data from Bloomberg Law shows that since 2007, Sotheby`s has turned to Sidley Austin and Weil, Gotshal & Manges to manage more than 20% of its litigation portfolio.

In at least three to five years, Sidley handled about 30% of Sotheby`s litigation, with other firms such as Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Withers Bergman, Hogan Lovells, Pryor Cashman and Schulte Roth & Zabel handling the rest. The latter city offers a hint of big news here. The three lawyers form a strategic alliance with the London-based law firm Joseph Hage Aaronson, headed by Joseph Hage, which handles commercial, arbitral and tax litigation. In the art world, Joe Hage is an important force but rarely discussed behind the scenes; he is closely associated with the phenomenally successful markets of Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon. Hage also acts as an advisor to artists, artists` estates, and art collectors. DeSanto and Fletcher begin their new positions at Sotheby`s after the company acquired Patrick Drahi, a prominent French art collector and telecommunications billionaire, for $2.7 billion last year.