As the fourth oldest auction house in the world, Sotheby’s place in art auction history is unquestioned; It also holds the record the oldest company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company was already in existence in 1744 and centered its activities around the trade of old books and manuscripts. Between 1778 and 1807, John Sotheby (the then director) expanded its operation to include medals, prints, antiques, and coins. In 1864, the company changed its name to Sotheby’s in honor of the last Sotheby. In 1955, Sotheby’s went international, becoming the first auction house to do this when it expanded from London to
New York. In 2012, it became the first international auction house to open its doors in China. Sotheby’s has a presence in 40 countries, conducts auctions in ten salesrooms, and sells items in over 70 different categories, including fine art, retail, diamonds, automobiles, real estate and wine.
Notable sales include the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels sold for $50,000,000 in 1987; Andy Warhol’s Orange Marilyn sold for $17,327,500 in 1998; Clyfford Still, 1949, A-NO,1 sold for $61,700,000 in 2011; Edward Munch’s masterpiece The Scream sold for record-breaking $119,922,500 in 2012; Silver Car Crash Doubled Disaster, Andy Warhol 1963 sold for $105,000,000 (world record). Notable collections from Gianni Versace, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Greta Garbo, and David Bowie were also sold through the auction house.
Sotheby auction house has presented a growing number of online-only sales through Sotheby’s Museum Network, which was launched in response to advances in technology. Sotheby’s seems like it will continue to have a long and successful life as it acquires more businesses, prestige, and status.