The Art Angle Podcast: Who Is Sotheby’s Mysterious New Owner, and What Does He Want?
In our latest podcast episode, Tim Schneider analyzes telecom tycoon Patrick Drahi's acquisition of Sotheby's with host Andrew Goldstein.
Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.
Normally, the week following Art Basel in June sees the art market begin its downshift into the summer doldrums. But this year, on what nearly everyone expected to be a quiet Monday, the usual cycle was disrupted by a breaking-news earthquake: Sotheby’s, the world’s oldest auction house, had struck a deal in principle to be acquired for $3.7 billion by a mysterious telecom magnate named Patrick Drahi. Even more jarring than Drahi’s status as a largely unknown quantity in the art world was the announcement that he planned to return Sotheby’s, which had been publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange for the previous 31 years, to private control.
News of the deal triggered an avalanche of questions among art-world observers: Who exactly was Drahi, as a man, an entrepreneur, and a patron of the arts? What did his entrance portend for CEO Tad Smith and the rest of the house’s existing leadership structure? What would it mean for the market to lose access to the detailed financial information that Sotheby’s was required to regularly disclose to the public by Uncle Sam? And what were the larger implications for the art industry overall?
Roughly five months later, Drahi’s acquisition of Sotheby’s is official, and an elite group of his trusted confidantes can now be found in the house’s C-suite. But with so many big changes still so fresh—and with so many questions still left to be answered—Artnet News art business editor Tim Schneider came on the Art Angle to make sense of this seismic event in auction history.
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