Sotheby’s Owner Patrick Drahi May Take the Auction House Public, Reports Say

According to reports, Drahi could move to take the company public in the US next year.

Claude Monet at Sotheby's Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Patrick Drahi, the owner of Sotheby’s, is reportedly mulling taking the auction house public. If Drahi does move forward with a plan to do an initial public offering, it would take place just a few years after he took the 277-year old auction private in 2019, ending its house’s 30-year run as a publicly traded company.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Drahi, who accrued his wealth through the US telecoms company Altice, could move to bring the company public in the US next year. Since acquiring Sotheby’s for $3.7 billion more than two years ago, the French-Israeli billionaire has received major payouts from the deal. In May of this year, Sotheby’s paid out $300 million dividends to its owners. Drahi’s BidFair USA owns a 94 percent stake in Sotheby’s.

News of the potential move to take the company public comes just as Sotheby’s reported $7.3 billion in sales on Wednesday. That amount, the house said, was more than it had brought in during any other year previously. The historic high was driven in part by a new digital strategy enacted during the onslaught of the pandemic in 2020, and it was helped by the rise of young crypto-rich collectors, a bullish luxury and collectibles sector and the return of single-owner sales like ones held for works from the Macklowe collection, which brought in $676 million in November.

The potential return of the age-old auction house to the US stock market, where it formerly was represented by the ticker “BID” on the New York Stock Exchange, would once again give investors a rare hand in the notoriously opaque dealings of the art market.

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