Established in 1744 by Samuel Baker, what was then Baker and Leigh is now the world renowned Sotheby’s Auction House. A modern and innovative global art business, the company was originally created to sell several hundred rare and valuable books from the library of Rt Hon Sir John Stanley. The whole lot sold for a few hundred pounds.
Over the centuries, Sotheby’s expertise has expanded well beyond books to include the best in fine art, exquisite jewellery and antiques. Now a multi-national corporation, they were the first auction house to expand from London to New York in 1955, and the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong and the then – Soviet Union. Today they maintain 90 locations in 40 countries and conduct 250 auctions each year. Sotheby’s success has been well defined by extraordinary moments in auction history.
Auction House Heavyweights
Sotheby’s Auction House has handled some of the most astounding library collections and historically important art piece sales to date. In 1958, it was praised for the aggressive sale of the Goldschmidt collection, which elicited astronomically high prices and has been cited as the event heralding the late-20th-century boom in fine-art selling. Other famous and noteworthy sales include Napoleon’s St Helena library, the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels, the Estate of Mrs Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Rembrandt’s Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer, Rubens’ Massacre of the Innocents, Picasso’s Garçon à la Pipe, the 5,000-year-old Guennol Lioness, the Magna Carta, and the first printing of the Declaration of Independence.
Experts in Their Field
Whatever your artistic inclinations, a visit to Sotheby’s Auction House is not an experience you will soon forget. Sotheby’s employs specialists in every area of art and antiques; from watches to photography, gemstones to contemporary paintings.
A Sotheby’s Specialist is the absolute authority in their field. One such knowledgeable expert, Sotheby’s Senior International Specialist of Impressionist & Modern Art, Philip Hook, recently published Breakfast at Sotheby’s: An A-Z of the Art World. This witty book is a revealing look at how art is valued and put up for sale, and instructs readers on the lingo used by those ‘in-the-know’.
For its most discerning and high profile clients, Sotheby’s occasionally hosts behind-the-scenes Specialist-led handling sessions and masterclasses. These demonstrations showcase impressive objects from their famous collection.
The Future Looks Bright
Sotheby’s recognises that great art, as well as art collectors, have a presence in the global sphere. In addition to their four principal salerooms, the company has recently implemented the use of BIDnow, which will allow clients to watch all Sotheby’s auctions live online and place bids in real time, from anywhere in the world.
Upcoming auctions of note in 2015 include Sotheby’s ‘Finest and Rarest Wines” in January, which will feature some of the most prestigious wines available on the market. The following month Sotheby’s “Of Royal and Noble Descent” auction will present a stunning group of fine and decorative arts sourced from the Princely and Aristocratic families of Europe, with last year’s action fetching over £2 million.
Last year also saw Sotheby’s launch its inaugural “Made in Britain” auction, offering some of the very finest works of British creativity in the 20th century, from a variety of disciplines. The auction is celebrated for illuminating Britain’s oft-overlooked contribution to the modernist movement, and will have another exquisite range of art available being auctioned in March 2015.
An Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Tour with Truly
Your party will be taken on a private tour of Sotheby’s, led by a department specialist. Guests will be afforded access to all areas. This is a unique opportunity to go behind the scenes and follow the journey of artwork valuation from start to finish.
As part of your experience, you and your guests will be able to take part in a handling session and masterclass showcasing items from the Sotheby’s Collection. If any of your party have interest in a particular antique field, the masterclass and handling session can be tailored to reflect your requests. Sotheby’s holds over 250 exhibitions and sales per year, spanning 70 different categories, and with over 400 experts in various fields. Subject to specialist availability, your experience can reflect any area of Sotheby’s expertise.
The Sotheby’s Boardroom is a highly renowned private dining room. It is decorated with a collection of stunning Damien Hirst Butterfly paintings and features a dedicated butler service to exceed even the highest expectations. Upon arrival, each member of your party will be greeted with a glass of Krug champagne, followed by a three-course lunch menu expertly created from guest preferences and prepared by Sotheby’s own chef. Enjoy a wine tasting of fine wines selected by Serena Sutcliffe MW, International Head of Sotheby’s Wine Department, as well as her own exquisite wine pairing to accompany your meal.