The Sotheby's Auction House is one of the oldest in the world, the date of its opening - March 11, 1744, and the first owner was a London bookseller Samuel Baker. And today Sotheby's, together with the Christie auction house, is the leader in the world antiques market. These two companies account for about 90 percent of the total turnover from the sale of antiques.
By the start of the first auction, Baker had released a catalog of rare books that were up for auction. Bibliophiles and representatives of the largest libraries in England rushed to London. Moreover, at that time it was not so easy to get here, the auction was a kind of closed club focused on the aristocracy.
The auction house got its name from the name of the founder's nephew - John Sotheby's. In 1778, when Samuel Baker died, he became a co-owner of the company, along with George Lee. If earlier the main income came from the sale of books, now Sotheby's began an active trade in coins, paintings and other rarities that were in demand among antique dealers.
The annual turnover of Sotheby's is in the billions, and its main clients are representatives of the global financial elite. Buying a lot in this company is a sign that "life is good". In addition, antiques are a reliable investment of funds, antiquities only grow in price over the years. In the UK, there are quite loyal rules for exporting masterpieces abroad, therefore, they diverge among collections around the world. Now, unlike in the 18th century, admission to auctions is free and available to everyone. If you don't have the funds to buy, you can just be a spectator.
It's hard to believe, but in the early eighties of the twentieth century, Sotheby's was on the verge of bankruptcy. He was saved by the American entrepreneur Alfred Taubman, who bought the company. A few years later, the new owner found himself in an unpleasant situation and spent nine months behind bars. He was accused of colluding with the owners of Christie, creating an antique monopoly: prices were set by secret decisions of two giant companies. Since June
2019 Sotheby's is owned by French billionaire Patrick Drai.
For more than 100 years, the address of the Sotheby's auction has remained unchanged - London, New Bond 34/35. Here, in the very center of the capital, the company moved from the less prestigious Wellington Street. In 1955, a branch was opened in New York, then in a number of the largest cities in the world. In our country, Sotheby's Russia-CIS appeared only at the beginning of the XXI century - in 2007.
Despite the fact that all items submitted to the auction undergo a thorough examination, they cannot do without errors. For example, in 2011 a painting by the Dutch painter Frank Hals "Portrait of an Unknown" was sold here. The buyer paid £ 8.5 million for it. A few years later, another examination was carried out, according to the results of which it turned out that the painting was a fake. Sotheby's admitted its own mistake and returned the money.
In the spring of 2009, a table made in the 18th century for the Russian Empress Catherine II suddenly appeared at the New York Sotheby's auction. After the revolution, when antiques were actively exported from Russia abroad, the table disappeared without a trace. It was not bought at the auction, then the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation turned to Sotheby's with an offer to buy it. With the assistance of the auction house, they managed to find an owner who agreed to sell the rarity for $ 250, 000. Many years later the table returned to Russia and was transferred to the Tsarskoe Selo Museum-Reserve.
Currently, the oldest football club in the world is the English “Sheffield”, which was formed back in 1858. The footballers even tried to compile and write down a set of football rules. And in the 21st century, this set of rules ended up at Sotheby's. And it was bought for a huge amount - 880, 000 pounds. At the same time, a rich connoisseur of the history of football wished to remain anonymous, even took part in the auction by phone. The owners of the Sheffield club, who put the lot up for auction, were very pleased with the deal, saying that the proceeds will go towards building a new stadium.
At auctions, two types of bidding are most common. The first is English, which is used for most auctions. Including at Sotheby's. Before the start of the auction, the minimum price of the lot is announced, which rises as a result of the rivalry of the participants.
Trading under Dutch rules is quite different. Here, the opposite is true - the advertised price is the maximum. If none of the participants showed interest, then it begins to decline. The owner of the lot is the one who has time to intercept it faster than others. In the age of computer technology, it is absolutely not necessary to be in the hall, you can use the Internet services from anywhere in the world.