Christopher Kennedy to Depart Merchandise Mart

Courtesy Merchandise Mart Properties Inc.

Christopher Kennedy, president of the Chicago-based Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI), will step down at the end of July after having served at the top spot since 2000.

MMPI owns eight art fairs — including The Armory Show, Art Toronto, Art Chicago, Volta and Next — and plans to launch a new contemporary fair in Los Angeles this September called Art Platform — Los Angeles.

Merchandise Mart is in turn owned by Vornado Realty Trust, where Mr. Kennedy will retain a financial stake. His replacement, Mark Falanga is senior vice president at MMPI and the author of the book The Suburban You, a memoir in which the formerly urban Mr. Falanga “details his new, suburban landscape from the point of view of a bewildered but gung-ho everyman,” according to Random House. Mr. Kennedy is the son of Robert F. Kennedy.

“MMPI’s future will be much like its past,” Mr. Falanga said in an email to The Observer. “We will focus on our core values in bringing buyers and sellers together in our buildings and through our trade and consumer shows, and conferences. We will continue to provide a platform for thousands of small, medium and large companies in a variety of industries, to reach their customers – as well as their prospective customers, in the most efficient way in markets throughout North America. Chris has established this as the core of MMPI’s business years ago and in going forward we will be responsible stewards of MMPI’s mission.”

Mr. Kennedy remained vague, if optimistic, about his own future plans.

“Serving a larger community is critical to my happiness,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times, of his future plans. “I think I can do that. I would have nothing but regret if I did one thing all my life. I’ve a restless mind and an active spirit, so I think I’ll begin working on ideas as soon as my official role as president ends in a month. I have great confidence.”

Merchandise Mart has not yet responded to inquiries from this paper.

Updated 1:40 p.m. Corrected name of the new LA fair.

Updated July 7. Added quote from Mr. Falanga. Christopher Kennedy to Depart Merchandise Mart