Auction house Sotheby’s has instructed US banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to prepare an IPO. The US news agency has Bloomsberg reported Thursday based on anonymous sources.
For a long time there have been persistent rumors about a Sotheby’s IPO. According to Bloomberg’s sources, insiders who are bound by nondisclosure agreements, the IPO is planned for later this year and is expected to yield about 5 billion dollars (4.3 billion euros).
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If that expectation comes true, it means a spectacular profit for owner Patrick Drahi. The Moroccan-born French telecom billionaire bought Sotheby’s in 2019 for $3.7 billion and immediately took the Wall Street-listed company off the stock exchange for decades.
An increase in value of more than a third in less than three years, how do you do that? Drahi cut costs sharply, invested in digital innovations and managed to acquire important art collections with high guarantees, such as that of the New York billionaire couple Macklowe. The proceeds of the first auction of this collection brought in EUR 594 million in November.
The auction house also focused more on non-traditional markets. For example, it auctioned NFTs (digital artworks) and brokered a sale of rapper Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 1 sneakers, a transaction that involved $1.8 million.
As a privately held company, Sotheby’s has grown to become a market leader over the past two years. With a turnover of more than 7 billion dollars, 2021 was even the best year ever for the auction house, founded in Great Britain in 1744. The top end of the art market is not affected much by the corona pandemic.