France’s Oldest Auction Business, Drouot, Has Sold a 30 Percent Stake to Two Investment Companies

The group said the investment will open up liquidity options for shareholders and help bolster the auction business.

©Alain Potignon / Drouot

The French auction market is poised for a shake up after two investment companies acquired 30 percent of one of the world’s oldest and largest auction operations, Drouot, last week.

The Paris operation, initially created in 1852, and now umbrellaed under Groupe Drouot, has described the move as an historic and strategic transaction that will strengthen its leading position in France as well as in the international art and collectors’ auction market.

The new minority stakeholders are Vesper Investissement, an investment company created in 2020 by Pierre-Guillaume Véron, and Groupe Chevrillon, a family-owned evergreen investment company.

At a general meeting on July 6, Drouot’s shareholders approved the deal, which was proposed unanimously by the board of directors. 

“This large-scale operation will open up a liquidity solution for shareholders wishing to sell their shares, and will give the group the means to support the auctioneers who are its strength,” the group said in a statement. No exact figures about the size of the investment were provided.

Major development projects underway include growing Hôtel Drouot’s digital platform, and building out its activities in storage, delivery, and other related logistical issues, according to the statement.

The news comes after Drouot released its first half sales revenue totalling €338 million ($380 million), an increase of 14 percent compared to 2022. Drouot attributed the increase to an uptick in the number of individual sales at the Hôtel Drouot—nine percent growth accounting for €206.8 million ($232 million) in sales—and to its intensified digital activity, thanks to the continued development of international services—a 24 percent increase on 2022 brought in €182 million ($204 million).

According to website the Drouot Gazette, Drouot represents 15 auction and exhibition rooms; more than one hundred auctioneers are authorized to conduct auctions, grouped into auction house companies.

In 2023, a total of 1.6 million items have been offered on the platform (2.6 million during the year 2022) in 3,915 auctions (6,570 during the year 2022) ; there is also a range of services including estimates, shipping and storage of objects, and cultural training.

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