Sothebys under the ownership of french-israeli telecoms magnate Pattrick Drahi, restructured in December to two ‘equally important’ divisions – one to continue in fine art, for which Sothebys is famed, and one for luxury items. Watches and jewellery seen as key growth areas, especially now the pandemic has forced all sales online.
Christie’s has been doing exactly this since 2010 as owner French billionaire Francois Pinault was certain this was where success would be. He was spot on- introducing luxury handbags as online only sales at Christie’s in 2012 appealed massively to the Asian buyer and just five years late the record making sale of a Hermes Birkin white crocodile bag sold for a record $380,000 in Hong Kong.
Sothebys are in successful digital overdrive now, holding over three times the number of online sales compared to this time in 2019.
Interestingly the auctions house both say over 42% of bidders at luxury times sale since the pandemic have been new. Sothebys are hoping these bidders, happy to spend tens of thousands for handbags or watches will also become interested in the Fine Art market, and become confident to spend money there too.
Both houses believe the new buyer they attract now will stay with them in future years and continue to spend both online and in sale rooms once they are allowed to reopen.