Weng Fine Art submits additional Counter-Motion for the Annual General Meeting of artnet AG - Excessive Management Compensation needs to be capped

3 Aug. 2022 / Pressemitteilungen

Artnet AG (Artnet) is a leading company in the global art market and is engaged in the marketplace, media and data business. Weng Fine Art AG (WFA), together with its founder Rüdiger K. Weng, holds negative control of Artnet and is its largest shareholder alongside Galerie Neuendorf AG. As announced earlier, WFA and Rüdiger K. Weng are currently expanding their shareholding in Artnet towards 29,99 %.

Following a request by WFA, Artnet has scheduled their annual shareholders meeting (for the Fiscal Year 2021) for August 26, 2022. 

WFA has in the meanwhile submitted a further counter-proposal to the agenda of the Artnet management. It is addressed to topic no. 6 of the Annual General Meeting "Approval of the reviewed compensation system for the members of the Management Board". The previous salary of the Artnet-CEO of USD 477k already seems inappropriately high for a company that has never turned over more than USD 25 million per year and has lost almost USD 1,000,000 in 2021. For comparison: Rüdiger K. Weng as the CEO of the highly profitable Weng Fine Art AG received a salary of only EUR 97,742 in 2021 (including retirement benefits). The additional USD 450k for the Neuendorf-CEO are beyond all economically reasonable dimensions given Artnet's loss situation and its weak cash position. As a result, WFA intends to limit the salary of the Artnet CEO to USD 450k, which is his base salary. Furthermore, the salary proposal presented by the management of Artnet with exactly the same content was rejected by a majority of shareholders at last year's Annual General Meeting. It has never been revised since then, meaning that the voting of the shareholder majority has been completely ignored by Artnet's management.

It is also noteworthy that the Artnet administration has been using the same auditor for about 20 years, which is contrary to the recommendation of the corporate governance codex. If one does not wish to accept this repeated violation of good corporate governance, one has to vote "no" on agenda topic no. 4.

In the meantime, in addition to WFA, Mr. Andreas Langenscheidt has also submitted a counter-proposal for the election of Artnet's Board of Directors with the aim of having him elected to the Supervisory Board in replacement of current Board member Ms. Michaela Diener. WFA will support this proposal, as it considers Andreas Langenscheidt to be qualified for this role. During the past two years, it has unfortunately become apparent that Michaela Diener, who was appointed by the Neuendorf family, puts loyalty to the Neuendorf family, who are friends of hers, above the interests of Artnet and the majority of its shareholders.

On the other hand, WFA supports the re-election of the current Chairman of the Board of Directors, Pascal Decker. Based on its experience so far, WFA came to the conclusion that Mr. Decker is capable of balancing the interests of the various shareholder groups. 

A Board of Directors at Artnet consisting of Pascal Decker - Andreas Langenscheidt - Rüdiger K. Weng would represent all major shareholder groups and therefore be a balancing counterweight to the management dominated by the Neuendorf family. A Board of Directors composed in this way could control and advise the management of the company in the interest of all shareholders.  

WFA hopes to receive broad support from the shareholder base for WFA's counter-motions in order to enable Artnet to make a fresh start and pave the way to profitability.

Immediately after Artnet's Annual General Meeting, WFA will enter into open discussions with interested financial investors and competitors about their participation in Artnet and about Artnet’s future. From WFA's point of view, a potential takeover of Artnet by third parties supported by WFA will be one of the options to be examined for the further development of Artnet.