Sotheby's new reception area.
Photo: Brett Beyer

Sotheby’s to Be Taken Private in $3.7 Billion Sale to Patrick Drahi

Sotheby’s joins Christie’s as an auction house privately owned by a French billionaire

After 31 years as a public company, Sotheby’s auction house has made a deal to be taken private by art collector and telecommunications entrepreneur Patrick Drahi. The deal, according to the New York Times, is worth $3.7 billion.

BidFair USA, a company owned by Drahi, a 55-year-old French-Israeli billionaire, will buy Sotheby’s shares at $57 in cash per share of the company’s stock, according to the Wall Street Journal, marking a soaring 61 percent premium on Sotheby’s closing price on Friday, June 14.

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In the first quarter of 2019, Sotheby’s reported a $7.1 million loss following a loss of $6.5 million for the same period last year. While shares have been down 40 percent the past 12 months, after Drahi’s deal was announced, Sotheby’s shares rose 55 percent.

“Patrick founded and leads some of the most successful telecommunications, media, and digital companies in the world,” said Sothey’s CEO, Tad Smith, in a statement to Cision News. “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.”

Drahi vows to leave Sotheby’s management unchanged and remain focused on his telecom and media businesses.

“As a longtime client and lifetime admirer of the company, I am acquiring Sotheby’s together with my family,” said Drahi. “We thank Domenico [De Sole] 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.”

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