Sotheby's /ˈsʌðəbiz/ is a British multinational corporation
headquartered in New York City. One of the world's largest brokers of
fine and decorative art, jewelry, real estate, and collectibles,
Sotheby's operation is divided into three segments: auction, finance,
and dealer. The company’s services range from corporate art services
to private sales. It is named after one of its cofounders, John
Sotheby's is the world’s fourth oldest auction house in continuous
operation, with 90 locations in 40 countries. As of December 2011, the
company had 1,446 employees worldwide. It is the world's largest art
business with global sales in 2011 totalling $5.8 billion.
Sotheby's was established on 11 March 1744 in London. The American
holding company was initially incorporated in August 1983 in Michigan.
In June 2006,
Sotheby's Holdings, Inc. reincorporated in the State of
Delaware and was renamed Sotheby's. In July 2016, Chinese insurance
Taikang Life became
Sotheby's largest shareholder.
1.2 Public company
3 Service categories
3.1 Private sales
Sotheby's Financial Services
3.3 Corporate Art Services
Sotheby's Picture Library
3.6 Museum Services
Sotheby's Fine Art Storage Facility
3.9 Tax & Heritage
3.10 Trusts & Estates
3.12 Other services
4 Sotheby’s Prize
5 Art departments
6 Auctioned artwork
Price fixing scandal
7.2 Illegal antiquities
7.3 Auctions and artists' authorship rights
8 Activist investors
8.1 24 April 2014, ISS recommendation
8.2 July 2016, China's
Taikang Life Insurance becomes the largest
Auction errors at Sotheby's
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
A book sale in progress at Messrs Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge of
Wellington Street, 1888.
Sotheby's predecessor, Baker and Leigh, was founded in
London on 11
March 1744, when Samuel Baker presided over the disposal of
"several hundred scarce and valuable" books from the library of Rt Hon
Sir John Stanley Bt., of Alderley. Three Swedish auction houses are
even older (Stockholms Auktionsverk, Göteborgs Auktionsverk, Uppsala
Sotheby's great rival in
London and then New
York, Christie's, dates from 1759 or shortly after. The current
business dates back to 1804, when two of the partners of the original
business (Leigh and John Sotheby) left to set up their own book
dealership. The library
Napoleon took with him into exile at St
Helena, as well as the library collections of John Wilkes, Benjamin
Heywood Bright and the Dukes of Devonshire and of Buckingham (both
related to George Leigh) were sold through Samuel Baker’s
After Baker’s death in 1778, his estate was divided between Leigh
and John Sotheby. George Leigh died unmarried in 1816, but not
before endeavouring to secure his succession by recruiting Samuel E
Leigh into the business. Under the Sotheby family, the auction house
extended its activities to auctioning prints, medals, and coins.
Sotheby's Senior Accountant, became the company’s
new CEO. The business did not seek to auction fine arts in general
until much later, their first major success in this field being the
sale of a
Frans Hals painting for nine thousand guineas as late as
Sotheby's relocated from 13 Wellington Street to 34-35 New
Bond Street, which remains as its
London base to this day. They
soon came to rival
Christie's as leaders of the
London auction market,
which had become the most important for art. In 1955,
an office at Bowling Green, New York City. In 1964, Sotheby's
purchased Parke-Bernet, then the largest auctioneer of fine art in the
United States. In the following year,
Sotheby's moved to 980 Madison
Avenue, New York. With international popularity of fine art auction
Sotheby's opened offices in Paris and Los Angeles in 1967,
became the first auction house to operate in Hong Kong in 1973, and
Moscow in 1988.
York Avenue headquarters, New York City.
Sotheby's became a U.K. public company in 1977. A 25 percent drop from
the 1980–81 record of $610 million in sales contributed to
Sotheby's decision to relocate its North American headquarters from
Madison Avenue to a former cigar factory at 1334 York Avenue, New
York, in 1982. The auction house closed its
Madison Avenue galleries
at East 76th Street. The Los Angeles galleries were sold and auctions
of West Coast material moved to New York.
In the following year, a group of investors (such as American
millionaire Alfred Taubman) purchased and privatized Sotheby's.
Sotheby's was initially incorporated as
Sotheby's Holdings, Inc. in
Michigan in August 1983. Taubman took
Sotheby's public in 1988,
listing the company’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange, making
Sotheby's the oldest publicly traded company on the NYSE under the
ticker symbol "BID." In June 2006,
Sotheby's Holdings, Inc.
reincorporated in the State of
Delaware and was renamed Sotheby's
With private transactions constituting an essential and increasingly
profitable business segment, through the years
Sotheby's has bought
art galleries and helped dealers finance purchases. It has also gone
into partnership with dealers on private sales. In 1990, Sotheby's
teamed up with dealer William Acquavella, to form Acquavella Modern
Nevada general partnership and a subsidiary of Sotheby's
Holding Company. The subsidiary paid $143 million for the
contents of the
Pierre Matisse Gallery in Manhattan, which included
about 2,300 works by such artists as Miró, Jean Dubuffet, Alberto
Giacometti, and Marc Chagall, and began selling the works both at
auction and privately. In 1996,
Sotheby's acquired Andre Emmerich
Gallery to operate a division called Emmerich/Sotheby's, and in
1997 it purchased a 50% interest in Deitch Projects. As a
consequence, the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, the main
beneficiary of the artists' estates, as well as the estates of Morris
Milton Avery announced that they would not renew their
Emmerich contracts. That decision came right after it was
Sotheby's had decided to close Emmerich's prime space
at 41 East 57th Street, and that its artists would be handled out of
Sotheby's subsequently closed Andre Emmerich in
1998 and later sold its share in
Deitch Projects back to Jeffrey
Deitch. In 2006,
Sotheby's acquired a Dutch dealership, Noortman
Master Paintings, from its owner, Robert Noortman, for
$82.5 million ($56.5 million worth of
Sotheby's stock and
assumption of more than $26 million in gallery debt, including
$11.7 million owed to the auction house). Sothebys and
Noortman had collaborated before in 1995, when the sales of Dutch
plastic millionaire Joost Ritman were divided between the two
Already in 1990,
Sotheby's New York had successfully lobbied for a
zoning change permitting the construction of a 27-story residential
tower above the five-story headquarters; this expansion was never
Sotheby's throughout the 1990s expressed interest
in sites that ranged from the old Alexander’s building on East 59th
Street to the
New York Coliseum
New York Coliseum site on Columbus Circle, and was even
considering moving into the old B. Altman building on Fifth
Avenue. The company eventually bought its
York Avenue building for
$11 million in 2000 and completed a $140 million expansion
and renovation in 2001, adding six floors and 240,000 square feet.
The renovation added the capability to store works on the same
premises as the specialist departments, galleries, and auction spaces.
Sotheby's New York's offices also house
Wine and the former
Bid (an American contemporary restaurant and later bistro), which was
closed due to poor attendance. The company sold the building in
2002 for $175 million. In May 2007,
Sotheby's opened an
Moscow in response to rapidly growing interest among Russian
buyers in the international art market and held sales in
Sotheby's office on New Bond Street, London.
As many industries took a blow from the economic crisis of 2008, the
art market also saw a contraction. In international figures, art
prices fell by 7.5% in Q1 of 2008 in comparison to the previous
quarter. In September and October 2008, major auction houses saw a
sharp decline in sales: artprice.com, the world leader in art market
information, coined the term "Black October."
Sotheby's bought-in rate
was 27%, Christie’s was 45% and Phillips de Pury’s was 46%.
However, the total values of global and United States Fine Art auction
sales were USD$8.3 billion and USD$2.9 billion,
respectively. In 2009, art collector
Steven A. Cohen built a 6
percent stake in the auction house for his hedge fund SAC Capital
As of 2012, the firm has an annual revenue of approximately
US$831.8 million and offices on Manhattan's
York Avenue and
London's New Bond Street. This position has been achieved through
natural growth, acquisitions (most notably the 1964 purchase of the
United States' largest auctioneer of fine art, Parke-Bernet), and
management during the cyclical "art recessions" of the 20th
In 2011, Noortman's Amsterdam space was closed and the gallery moved
to London. Two years later,
Sotheby's closed Noortmans, after
having written down $8.3 million of inventory and started selling
off lower-valued works of art through other auction houses. As of
Sotheby's is present in over 90 locations in 40 countries with
ten salesrooms. In 2012, the company signed a 10-year
joint-venture agreement to form
Auction Co. Ltd.,
the first international auction house in China; under the agreement,
it invested $1.2 million to take an 80 percent stake in the
venture with state-owned Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group.
Sotheby's shares a rivalry
Christie's for the position of the world's
preeminent fine art auctioneer, a title of much subjectivity. In
Sotheby's introduced an online system – My
allowing clients to track lots and create "wishlists" that could be
automatically updated as new works became available.
created the BIDnow service, which allows bidders to bid real-time
online while watching the broadcast auctions, with the exception of
Wine auctions. LiveBid is
Sotheby's online bidding system exclusively
for wine auctions. In the meantime, income from classic
auctioneering has fallen, as
Sotheby's reported a decrease of 42% in
net income in the first half of 2012.
As well as numerous high-profile real life auctions being held at
Sotheby's, the auctioneers has also been used in various films,
including the 1983
James Bond film Octopussy in which Bond (played by
Roger Moore) unsuccessfully tried to bid for a rare Fabergé egg,
which he had cleverly exchanged for a fake that was finally sold to
the villainous Afghan prince,
Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan).
In February 2015
Sotheby's acquired a 25% stake in classic and vintage
automobile auctioneer RM Auctions.
On 17 March 2015, it was announced that Tad Smith, former president
and chief executive of New York's Madison Square Garden, would
William F. Ruprecht as CEO of Sotheby's. Smith had no
experience in the auction industry and oversaw a doubling of profits
during his time at Madison Square Garden. In 2015 the auction
house's longest serving auctioneer, David Redden, and Vice-Chairman
On 25 January 2018,
Sotheby's acquired AI company Thread Genius for an
Sotheby's auctions are usually held during the day. The majority are
free and open to the public, with the exception of occasional evening
auctions, which require tickets. All attendees have no obligation to
bid. When an auction takes place,
Sotheby's auctioneers begin the
sale by describing the item in house and announcing the beginning
price that is lower than its reserve price. The bid begins and is
finished when a sole bidder remains willing to purchase the lot at the
bidder’s declared price. The auctioneer "knocks down" the lot,
declaring it sold to the winning bidder. The winning bid for a lot is
also called the hammer price.
Sotheby's organises the delivery of the
lot in private with the buyer.
Interested buyers can find out what is up for sale at Sotheby's
Sotheby's e-catalogues, visiting
Sotheby's print catalogues and registering for
the listserv for e-mail alerts. Buyers can register to bid in
Sotheby's offices, or online on
Sotheby's website. Sotheby's
requires that prospective buyers provide government-issued proof of
identity and a bank reference (where required). Once registration is
approved, there are four ways buyers can bid at Sotheby's: buyers can
choose to bid in person at
Sotheby's auction rooms, place bids online
in real time through BIDnow or LiveBid, register to Telephone Bid with
a representative from
Sotheby's and submit an Absentee Bid online.
When a bid is successful,
Sotheby's calculates and sums the hammer
price, the buyer’s premium, and local taxes (if any). The winning
bidder can choose to pay with cash, cheque, money order or wire
transfer. Credit card acceptance varies upon location.
Interested sellers are required to fill out the
Estimate Form, providing thorough information on the item and email
the form and a photograph of the item to Sotheby's. Once accepted as
appropriate for a
Sotheby's auction, the seller and
Sotheby's sign a
contract, which sets out the reserve price and the seller’s
commission. If bidding on a seller’s lot does not reach the
Sotheby's does not sell the item at the auction.
Sotheby's has eleven service categories that cover most facets of the
Sotheby's links sellers with prospective buyers in private if sellers
do not want a public auction. The identities of buyers and consignors
are not disclosed.
Sotheby's Private Sales works with clients with
confidentiality and tailors the buying and selling process in a
private setting. Private Sales accounted for 16.5% of all Sotheby's
sales in 2011. That year,
Sotheby's inaugurated a new gallery
space called S2 at its
York Avenue headquarters with a show of work by
American abstract painter Sam Francis. Unlike Haunch of Venison, a
Christie's bought in 2007, S2 is solely devoted to
showcasing the auction house's private sales. The company reported
$513 million in private sales in the first half of 2012, making
commission revenues of $41.5 million on them. In 2013,
Sotheby's opened a gallery for private sales close to its branch in
London, in a five-story block at 31 George Street. The auction
house also conducts private sales through its selling exhibitions of
monumental sculpture at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, and at the
Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Sotheby's Financial Services
Established in 1988,
Sotheby's Financial Services offers loans for
consigned property and loans against the value of client's items
through customized terms. The auction house also makes term loans,
for a defined period of time, on works that clients aren’t planning
to sell, in part to "establish or enhance mutually beneficial
relationships with borrowers" that can lead to future
consignments. Despite criticism from the media and dealers that it
operates like a bank by inflating prices back in the 1990s, its loan
portfolio amounted to about USD$212 million in 2011. While
traditional lenders such as banks provide loans at a lower cost to
Sotheby's said in its 2011 annual report, few will accept
works of art as the sole collateral.
Corporate Art Services
Sotheby's Corporate Art Services specialises in assisting corporations
in various processes to build and value their corporate art
Sotheby's assists handling acquisitions, deaccessions,
valuations and plans special events related to artwork for corporate
Sotheby's has worked with companies such as AT&T, Bank of
America, CBS, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, Credit Suisse, HSBC, MetLife,
Merrill Lynch, Neuberger Berman, PNC Bank, and Unilever. For
example, in 2010,
Sotheby's auctioned works from the Neuberger Berman
Lehman Brothers Corporate Art Collections when the corporations
were under financial distress.
Sotheby's collection management system powered by
Collector Systems, a web-based collection management software
creator.[better source needed] iCollect provides a
Sotheby's entire collection of items ever sold,
detailed information about each item and track condition history.
After registration, clients can upload images of their items and
provide condition reports, appraisal documents and insurance
Sotheby's Picture Library
Sotheby’s Picture Library contains images in a variety of formats
available for licensing. It is one of the image suppliers to
various databases such as the British Association of Picture Libraries
and Agencies (BAPLA).
HK Central Landmark 朱銘 Ju Ming art exhibition interior Sotheby's
Sotheby's Museum Services works with museums through providing
assistance in item valuations, deaccessions and sales, tailored
acquisition opportunities and cultivation and development
Sotheby's Café, located in
Bond Street auction house in
London, offers breakfast, lunch, and traditional English afternoon
tea. The Café’s wine list is created by Serena Sutcliffe, the head
Sotheby's International wine department.
Sotheby's Fine Art Storage Facility
Sotheby's Fine Art Storage facility is located in Greenford Park,
Middlesex. The facility provides 100,000 square feet of storage over
Tax & Heritage
Sotheby's Tax & Heritage assists fiscal and legal aspects of items
Sotheby's in the United Kingdom and Europe.
Trusts & Estates
Sotheby's Trusts & Estates service assists fiduciaries, executors
and beneficiaries in the United States for valuation and disposition
of personal property assets, estate tax, family division, insurance
loans, collateral loans, and consignment management. Clients are not
restricted to sell at Sotheby's.
Sotheby's Valuations service provides valuations of the market,
charitable donations, insurance for loans, indemnification valuations
for government applications and auction estimates.
Sotheby's at Auction, a luxury magazine
highlighting rare works of art on the market. Periodicals are priced
at USD$20 per issue in the United States and Canada. Sotheby's
Sotheby's Blogs featuring reports from
The Sotheby’s Prize, launched in 2017, is a $250,000 annual award
given to museums that exhibit what are vaguely described as
"groundbreaking shows". The inaugural winners were Many Tongues:
Art, Language and Revolution in the Middle East and South Asia curated
by Omer Kholeif of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Pop
América: Contesting Freedom, 1965-1975 curated by Esther Gabara of
the Nasher Museum.
Books and Manuscripts
Furniture and Decorative arts
Jewelry and Watches
Paintings, Sculptures and Drawings
Hispano J12 1933 coach Pourtout—
Sotheby's holds a number of world records for auctioned works of art.
The following monetary values are given in United States dollars.
On 22 May 2002, Norman Rockwell's painting of
Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter was
sold for $4.96 million.
On 3 May 2006,
Sotheby's auctioned Pablo Picasso's Dora Maar au Chat
which was sold for $95 million to an undisclosed purchaser,
becoming the second most expensive artwork ever sold at auction at
On 7 June 2007, a Roman-era bronze sculpture of Artemis and the Stag
was sold at
Sotheby's by the
Albright–Knox Art Gallery
Albright–Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo,
New York for $28.6 million, by far exceeding its estimates and
setting the new record as the most expensive sculpture as well as work
from antiquity ever sold at auction.
Sotheby's holds the world record for most expensive piece of
contemporary art ever sold at auction, with Mark Rothko's
quintessential 1950 White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose),
which grossed $72.8 million in May 2007 and was famously offered
David Rockefeller as well as the most expensive work sold at
auction by a living artist with Damien Hirst's "Lullaby Spring" pill
cabinet, which grossed roughly $19 million in a June 2007 London
On 6 December 2007,
Sotheby's auctioned the Guennol Lioness, a
31⁄4-inch limestone lion from ancient Mesopotamia. It is thought
to be at least 5,000 years old. It was sold for US$57 million,
fetching the highest price ever paid for at an auction for a
On 15 December 2007,
Sotheby's auctioned a limited edition copy of The
Tales of Beedle the Bard, written by J. K. Rowling. Although expected
to make just $98,350, the book was purchased for a hammer price of
London fine art dealers Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox on
behalf of Amazon.com. The novel, which contained children's stories,
was originally mentioned in the
Harry Potter novel series. J.K.
Rowling finished the actual story in late 2007. Only seven copies are
in existence, each version unique by its cover. Six were given away as
gifts to those close to her, while the remaining "moonstone edition"
was sent up for auction with proceeds going to The Children's Voice
charity. Each leather bound copy was hand written and illustrated
by J.K. Rowling.
On 19 December 2007,
Sotheby's auctioned a 710-year-old copy of the
Magna Carta, the last remaining copy in private hands out of the 17
that are known to exist. The copy sold for $21.3 million.
On 3 February 2010, the sculpture
L'Homme qui marche I
L'Homme qui marche I by Alberto
Giacometti was sold in
London for £65 million
(US$103.7 million), setting a new world record for a work of art
sold at auction.
On 2 May 2012, a version of the painting
The Scream was sold for
On 12 October 2012, the painting Abstraktes Bild by Gerhard Richter
was sold for US$34,000,000, which set the record for a work by a
Price fixing scandal
In February 2000,
A. Alfred Taubman
A. Alfred Taubman and Diana (Dede) Brooks, the CEO
of the company, stepped down amidst a price fixing scandal. The FBI
had been investigating auction practices in which it was revealed that
collusion involving commission fixing between
Christie's and Sotheby's
was occurring. In October 2000, Brooks admitted her guilt in hopes of
receiving a reduced sentence, implicating Taubman. In December
2001, jurors in a high-profile
New York City
New York City courtroom found Taubman
guilty of conspiracy. He served ten months of a one-year sentence in
prison, while Brooks received a six-month home confinement and a
penalty of US$350,000.
Sotheby's was sentenced to pay a fine of
US$45 million. No staff from
Christie's were charged.
Growing out of the four-year criminal antitrust investigation by the
United States Department of Justice, some 130,000 buyers and sellers
filed class-action lawsuit, arguing they were cheated in the
price-fixing conspiracy by
Sotheby's and Christie's. In 2001, the
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
gave final approval to a US$512 million agreement. The
structure of the settlement was said to have helped stave off
insolvency for both companies, especially the publicly held
At the time of the scandal, 59 percent of the company's Class A shares
were owned by Baron Funds.
In 1997, a
Channel 4 Dispatches programme alleged that
been trading in antiquities with no published provenance, and that the
organisation continued to use dealers involved in the smuggling of
artefacts. As a result of this exposé,
their own report into illegal antiquities, and made assurances that
only legal items with published provenance would be traded in the
future. In 2012, however, the U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement moved to seize a 10th-century Cambodian sandstone statue
from Sotheby's, alleging in a civil complaint before the United
States District Court for the Southern District of New York that the
company had put the work up for auction "despite knowing that it had
been stolen from a temple" in Koh Ker. The Antiquities
London was managed by Felicity Nicholson, Brendan Lynch
and Oliver Forge, Forge and Lynch were removed from their posts but
never charged in their role. In a recent article, October 2014, The
Australian, by Michaela Boland explored Brendan Lynch's relationship
and dealing in Antiquities.
Auctions and artists' authorship rights
In 2012, art dealer Marc Jancou filed suit in the Supreme Court of the
State of New York, suing both
Sotheby's and artist
Cady Noland after
the auction house pulled a work he had consigned by the artist from a
sale, apparently at her request. The suit argued that this presented a
breach of the consignment agreement. Noland had told
were problems with the condition of her painting Cowboys Milking
(1990), estimated to sell for between US$260,000 and $350,000. Jancou
Sotheby's for US$6 million in compensatory damages, and
Noland for US$20 million in punitive damages. Both Sotheby's
and Noland argued withdrawing the work from auction was well within
the artist's rights under the
Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) and New
York’s Artists’ Authorship Rights Act (AARA).
In 2013 and 2014,
Sotheby's was the target of a takeover attempt by
Daniel S. Loeb of Third Point LLC, a registered
investment adviser founded in 1995 and headquartered in New York with
over $14 billion in assets under management. Third Point
began acquiring shares in
Sotheby's in February 2013. By July
2013, Loeb's stake in
Sotheby's increased to 3.7%, and in August he
raised his stake to 5.7%, and requested to talk with the management
and board. In July, activists at Marcato Capital Management revealed a
6.6% stake, saying that the shares were undervalued. At that point,
Marcato and Third Point were
Sotheby's second and third-largest
shareholders, following BlackRock Fund Advisors. Third Point’s
August purchase brought its stake in
Sotheby's to 3.9 million
On 2 October, Third Point increased its share of
Sotheby's to 9.3
percent and, in a letter to
Sotheby's President, CEO, and Chairman
William F. Ruprecht, called for a change in management, due to "the
company's chronically weak operating margins and deteriorating
competitive position relative to Christie's, as evidenced by each of
the contemporary and modern art evening sales over the last several
years." Third Point noted "We acknowledge that
Sotheby's is a luxury
brand, but there appears to be some confusion - this does not entitle
senior management to live a life of luxury at the expense of
Sotheby's "for what he called an
incoherent Internet strategy and for not being aggressive enough in
the contemporary art market", Loeb said that he wanted the firm to
expand globally and "exploit the
Sotheby's brand through adjacent
businesses" and offered to "join the Board immediately and to help
recruit several new directors who have experience increasing
shareholder value, share a passion for art, understand technology and
luxury brands, or have operated top-performing sales
On 3 October 2013,
Sotheby's responded to Third Point’s rapid
Sotheby's stock by announcing its adoption of a
shareholder rights plan, known generally as a "poison pill", whereby
it forcibly diluted investor holdings in an attempt to ward off a
hostile takeover. Third Point described the action as "a
disproportionate response" and "a relic from the 1980s”, saying:
"Rather than address our well-documented citations of mismanagement
and initiate a constructive dialogue with its largest shareholder, the
Board and the CEO have attempted to further entrench themselves,"
putting "their job security ahead of
shareholders." Third Point wrote that "no
action could have revealed more clearly the need for new blood and
fresh views in the boardroom at this critical inflection point" for
Between October 2013 and February 2014, representatives of Sotheby's
and Third Point "held a number of in-person and telephonic meetings"
in which "they discussed Third Point’s ideas about how to increase
stockholder value." At these meetings, Third Point insisted on
multiple seats on
Sotheby's board; the firm offered only a single seat
for Loeb himself. In Third Point’s view, this offer did not
represent "a serious attempt to forge a settlement that would avoid a
In February 2014, Third Point, which by now was
stockholder, stated in a filing that it would nominate three people
– Loeb, Harry Wilson, and Olivier Reza – to
saying that current board members "lack the fresh perspective
necessary to overhaul the company's challenged operational structure
and cure its cultural malaise." Informing
Sotheby's formally on
27 February 2014, of its nomination of Loeb, Wilson, and Reza as board
candidates, Third Point commended
Sotheby's for having taken certain
actions that Third Point considered productive, but stated that "there
remains much to be done to enhance" the firm’s "competitive
position, refocus its strategy, and boost stockholder value." It
was reported in early March that Marcato would support Third Point’s
nominees to the board.
On 13 March, a day after Third Point increased its stake in Sotheby's
slightly to 9.6%, the firm rejected Third Point’s board nominees,
saying that they "add no relevant skills, experience or expertise that
is not already effectively represented on the board." Instead, the
firm nominated executive Jessica Bibliowicz and former AOL and
Univision executive Kevin Conroy. This proposed board, complained
Third Point, "lacks an expert in the type of fundamental corporate
restructuring that the Company must undertake."
24 April 2014, ISS recommendation
On 24 April 2014, the investor shareholder advisory firm Institutional
Shareholder Services recommended that
Sotheby's investors should vote
for two of the three board members recommended by Daniel Loeb,
including himself. The second board member recommended by
the ISS was Olivier Reza, "a former investment banker whose jeweler
family has done business with Sotheby's."
Prior to the ISS recommendation, on 21 April 2014, Mr. Loeb wrote a
letter to the
Sotheby's board noting the following:
We are convinced that having an owner's perspective in the boardroom
yields better results, that this board is in dire need of fresh
insights, and that our candidates are more qualified than the
company's emissaries we are seeking to replace.
In the report the ISS noted that, "the particulars of their criticisms
of things like commission margin, there is credible reason to believe
their larger criticism about strategic myopia has some credibility".
ISS recommended shareholders vote for Loeb and Olivier Reza and that
introducing change into the boardroom was warranted. Writing for
New York Times
New York Times on 24 April, of 2014, Alexandria Stevenson notes:
Mr. Loeb has accused
Sotheby's of rebating the fees its takes for
selling multimillion-dollar works, while also taking less of the
buyer's fees to attract more business. He has taken issue with the
auction house's strategy of focusing on top clients and headline
sales. He has even criticized board members' relatively low holdings
of their own company’s stock.
Later that day,
Sotheby's issued a statement in regards to the report
by the ISS:
We believe that
Sotheby's shareholders should vote for all of
Sotheby's director nominees. We note that ISS rejected one of Third
Point's nominees and recommends that shareholders vote for our Say on
On 5 May, Dan Loeb and
Sotheby's reached an agreement which stipulated
that Dan Loeb, Olivier Reza and Harry J. Wilson joined the board in
exchange for Third Point having an ownership cap at 15%, William
Ruprecht would stay as CEO and the proxy context to be held at
Sotheby's AGM would cease On the newest board members,
Bill Ruprecht, Chairman, President and CEO of
We welcome our newest directors to the Board and look forward to
working with them, confident that we share the common goal of
delivering the greatest value to
Sotheby's clients and shareholders.
This agreement ensures that our focus is on the business and that we
will benefit from five fresh voices and viewpoints.
July 2016, China's
Taikang Life Insurance becomes the largest
Disclosed on 27 July 2016, Chinese insurance company Taikang Life
Insurance (Chinese: 中國泰康人壽), run by Chen Dongsheng, the
grandson-in-law of Mao Zedong, has taken 13.5% stake in
Sotheby's, therefore holds the highest active stake of the
auction house, at the same time announced the possibility of seeking
board representation in the near future.
Auction errors at Sotheby's
Article on Docantic concerning sconces incorrectly assigned to
Peter Wilson (auctioneer), former chairman
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