Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2019 Issue

Sotheby's Sold for $3.7 Billion

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A book sale at Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge in 1888.

Sotheby's has been selling property for others going on three centuries now. Two weeks ago, the tables were turned. This time, it was Sotheby's itself that was sold. The hammer price was $3.7 billion, undoubtedly the highest realization ever at Sotheby's, although the sale did not take place in the auction rooms. It was a private sale.

 

The buyer officially was BidFair USA, but that is an entity wholly owned by entrepreneur Patrick Drahi and his family. Mr. Drahi is a French and Israeli citizen who has had enormous success in the telecommunications and digital media sphere. He owns several such companies in Europe along with major shares in a couple of cable companies in the U.S. Mr. Drahi's wealth is primarily based on being a 60% shareholder in the European firm Altice. Fortune Magazine estimates his financial worth as being $9.3 billion.

 

Mr. Drahi is also a noted art collector and has long been a client of Sotheby's.

 

In announcing the sale, Sotheby's CEO Tad Smith said, "Patrick Drahi is one of the most well-regarded entrepreneurs in the world, and on behalf of everyone at Sotheby’s, I want to welcome him to the family. Known for his commitment to innovation and ingenuity, Patrick founded and leads some of the most successful telecommunications, media and digital companies in the world. He has a long-term view and shares our brand vision for great client service and employing innovation to enhance the value of the company for clients and employees. This acquisition will provide Sotheby’s with the opportunity to accelerate the successful program of growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment. It positions us very well for our future and I strongly believe that the company will be in excellent hands for decades to come with Patrick as our owner."

 

Domenico De Sole, Chairman of the Board of Sotheby's, added, “Following a comprehensive review, the Board enthusiastically supports Mr. Drahi’s offer, which delivers a significant premium to market for our shareholders. After more than 30 years as a public company, the time is right for Sotheby’s to return to private ownership to continue on a path of growth and success."

 

For his part, Mr. Drahi commented, "I am honored that the Board of Sotheby’s has decided to recommend my offer. Sotheby’s is one of the most elegant and aspirational brands in the world. As a longtime client and lifetime admirer of the company, I am acquiring Sotheby’s together with my family. We thank Domenico and the rest of the Sotheby’s Board for its support and look forward to getting started with Tad and the wonderful members of his team to define our future."

 

Perhaps Mr. Drahi will be able to reprise the old Victor Kiam commercial, when after purchasing the Remington shaver company, he announced, "I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company."

 

Sotheby's was founded in 1744 when it presided over the sale of a collection of books. It is named for one of its founders, John Sotheby. For two centuries, the company was located exclusively in London, but the firm opened its first overseas office, in New York, in the 1950s. After an even longer period as a private company, Sotheby's went public in the late 1970s, returning to private status a few years later. In 1988, Sotheby's again went public and has been a publicly held company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, ever since.

 

As to how Mr. Drahi was able to obtain board and shareholder approval of his proposal so quickly, one need only look at his offer. It was a generous 61% higher than the closing stock price the day prior. It last traded for $35.39 per share on June 14, before the announcement. The $3.7 million offered amounts to $57 per share. Not bad for a day's investment. Interestingly, while stocks often rise shortly before such a deal is announced, a sign that somebody knows what is about to happen, Sotheby's stock traded in the $35s all the previous week, evidence that Sotheby's and Mr. Drahi succeeded in keep their plans tightly under wraps.


Posted On: 2019-07-05 10:15
User Name: manohar

Valuable review.


Posted On: 2019-07-15 02:46
User Name: cowboyjack

in the last paragraph of this article i think the writer meant $3.7 Billion not $3.7 million.


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. <i>On the Origin of Species.</i> Presentation Copy. Sold for $500,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Darwin, Charles. Autograph Letter Signed, 3 pp, negotiating the 2nd American edition with Appleton. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Hemingway, Ernest. Autograph Letter Signed, 8 pp, Paris, 1924, to his father discussing Bullfighting, Stories, and his new baby. Sold for $25,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Corialanus.</i> London, 1623. 1st printing [Extracted from the First Folio]. Sold for $50,075.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Swift, Jonathan. <i>Gulliver's Travels.</i> London, 1726. 1st edition, Teerink's A edition, fine, large copy. Sold for $21,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Fitzroy, Robert. Autograph Letter Signed to agent Thomas Stilwell, informing him of the progress of H.M.S. Beagle. Sold for $17,575.
    <center><b>Bonhams<br> Property from the Collection of Nicole and William R. Keck II</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Shakespeare, William. <i>Sonnets.</i> 1901. 2 volumes. Printed on vellum and illuminated by Ross Turner, bound by Trautz-Bauzonnet. Sold for $13,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Beardsley, Aubrey. <i>The Birth, Life, and Acts of King Arthur.</i> 1893-94. 2 volumes. Contemporary painted vellum gilt by Chivers. Sold for $5,325.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Assisi, St. Francis. <i>The Canticle of Brother Sun.</i> Illuminated on vellum, for the Grolier Society. Sold for $7,575.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Rackham, Arthur. <i>Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.</i> 1/500 copies signed by Rackham. Sold for $4,825.
    <b>Bonhams, Jun 13 results:</b> Proust, Marcel. <i>Du coté de chez Swann.</i> 1st edition, 1st issue. Inscribed by Proust. Sold for $8,825.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ian Fleming, <i>Goldfinger,</i> first edition, inscribed to Sir Henry Cotton, MBE, London, 1959. Sold for $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Joseph Brant, Mohawk Chief, ALS, writing after pledging support to King George III against American rebels, 1776. Sold for a record $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Sonia Delaunay, <i>Ses Peintures</i> . . ., 20 pochoir plates, Paris, 1925. Sold for a record $13,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Diana, Princess of Wales, 6 autograph letters signed to British <i>Vogue</i> editor, 1989-92. Sold for $10,400.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alexander Hamilton, ALS, as Secretary of the Treasury covering costs of the new U.S. Mint, 1793. Sold for $12,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Benjamin Graham & David L. Dodd, <i>Security Analysis,</i> first edition, inscribed by Graham to a Wall Street trader, NY, 1934. Sold for $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> George Barbier & François-Louis Schmied, <i>Personnages de Comédie,</i> Paris, 1922. Sold for $9,375.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Ilsée, Princesse de Tripoli,</i> Paris, 1897. Sold for a record $13,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ralph Waldo Emerson, <i>The Dial,</i> first edition of the reconstituted issue, Emerson’s copy with inscriptions, Cincinnati, 1860. Sold for a record $3,250.

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