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Lionel Laurent

Why Sotheby's and Christie's Adore NFTs

Billionaire-owned auction houses like Sotheby’s and speculative crypto-art make logical bedfellows.

Is this the future of Art?

Is this the future of Art?

Source: Sipa Asia/Shutterstock

Franco-Israeli telecom billionaire Patrick Drahi stunned the art world in 2019 when he bought venerable auction house Sotheby’s for $3.7 billion, raising eyebrows with his outsider style, appetite for debt and executive appointees parachuted in from the world of cable networks and banking.

Covid-19 has shown that having an owner with a background in technology and media might not be such a bad thing. Glamorous fine-art sales were dragged online and live-streamed at an unprecedented pace last year, and Sotheby’s accounted for more than two-thirds of online-only auction sales, according to research firm ArtTactic — beating arch-rival Christie’s. “We’ve crossed the desert,” as Drahi put it.