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1744

London bookseller Samuel Baker, founder of Sotheby's, holds his first auction — the sale of the library of Sir John Stanley.

1823

Sotheby's sells the library Napoleon took with him into exile on St. Helena.

1884

Dante's Divine Comedy, illustrated with 84 large drawings by Botticelli, is sold for £13,000.

1917

Sotheby's moves from 13 Wellington Street to 34-35 New Bond Street in London, where it has remained ever since.

1928

The original manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, given by Lewis Carroll to Alice Liddell (the real Alice in Wonderland), is sold in London for a record £15,400.

1937

Sotheby's offers paintings and other items collected by Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild on site at 148 Piccadilly, one of the Rothschild's family residences. It was one of the first great house sales ever conducted, raising an unheard of £125,262, and was broadcast live by the BBC.

1955

Sotheby's opens its New York office at Bowling Green, near Wall Street.

1958

The historic Jakob Goldschmidt Collection sells in London for a record £781,000 — then the highest total ever achieved for a fine art sale and the first Evening sale held since the 18th century.

1961

Rembrandt's Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer sells to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, with Louis Marion as auctioneer, for a record $2.3 million, an auction record for a painting at the time.

1964

Sotheby's acquires Parke-Bernet in New York, America's largest fine art auction house, and moves to their premises at 980 Madison Avenue the following year. Parke-Bernet President Louis Marion remains under the new ownership.

1967

Sotheby's expands, opening offices in Paris and Los Angeles.

1968

Sotheby's is the first auction house to break the $1 million barrier for jewellery, selling A 69.42 carat ring to Cartier for $1.1 million in New York. The ring is then purchased by Richard Burton and is thereafter known as the Taylor-Burton Diamond.

1968

Pierre-August Renoir's The Pont des Arts, Paris sells for $1.55 million, the first Impressionist work to achieve more than $1 million at auction.

1973

Sotheby's becomes the first auction house to hold sales in Hong Kong.

1973

Sotheby's holds the first major auction of Contemporary Art in London, A Selection of Fifty Works from the Collection of Robert C. Scull, a milestone sale in the field that achieves an unprecedented $2.3 million

1977

The 18-session sale of the contents of Mentmore in Buckinghamshire, the property of the 7th Earl of Roseberry, totals £6.4 million, an auction record for a house sale.

1977

Sotheby's becomes a United Kingdom — based public company, and within 18 months the value of a share more than doubles.

1978

The Robert von Hirsch Collection of Impressionist and Modern Art, Old Master Paintings and Drawings, Medieval and Renaissance Works of Art, and Furniture and Porcelain is sold in London for £18.5 million and 53 world auction records are set.

1979

Frederic Edwin Church's The Icebergs is sold in New York for $2.75 million, a record at the time for any work of art sold at auction, and with Louis Marion's son, John Marion, as auctioneer.

1980

Joseph Mallord William Turner's Juliet and Her Nurse sells in New York for $7.04 million, the highest price paid for a work of art at auction.

1980

Sotheby's offers Impressionist and Modern Art, Jewellery, French Furniture and Porcelain from the esteemed collections of Edgar and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, including Pablo Picasso's Saltimbanque Seated with Folded Arms from 1923 which sells for $3 million, a record for the artist, and a 20th century painting at auction. In all, Sotheby's sales of the Garbisch Collection total more than $20 million.

1980

Part I of The Edward T. Chow Collection, the finest assembly of Ming and Qing porcelain to appear on the market, is offered in a landmark sale at Sotheby's Hong Kong. Amongst the highlights is a Chenghua Doucai Chicken Cup that sold for HKD $5,280,000.

1982

1334 York Avenue, Sotheby's New York office since moving from 980 Madison Avenue in 1980, becomes the company's North American headquarters.

1983

Alfred Taubman and a small group of investors acquire Sotheby's and take it private.

1983

The 12th century Gospels of Henry the Lion sells for $12.3 million in London and sets a new record for a work of art at auction.

1983

Historic treasures from Hever Castle in Kent, the childhood home of Ann Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I, sell for £5.9 million.

1985

Sotheby's sells Impressionist Paintings and Drawings from The Estate of Florence J. Gould for $32.6 million. Vincent Van Gogh's Landscape with Rising Sun achieves $9.9 million, a record for the artist and any Impressionist painting at auction.

1986
Sotheby's holds the historic auction of Contemporary Art from the Estate of the Late Robert C. Scull in New York and includes Andy Warhol's monumental masterpiece, 200 One Dollar Bills, which sells for $385,000. The work sells again by Sotheby's in 2009 when it sold for $43.8 million.
1987

Sotheby's Geneva conducts the historic auction of the Duchess of Windsor's jewels that sell for CHF75.4 million, setting a world auction record at the time for any single-owner collection of jewellery.

1987

Einstein's earliest and longest surviving manuscript on the theory of relativity sells for a record $1.2 million in New York.

1987

Vincent Van Gogh's Irises, from the collection of Joan Whitney Payson, sells in New York for $53.9 million, a world record for any painting at auction.

1988

Sotheby's holds a sale in Moscow, the first international auction ever to take place in the Soviet Union.


1988

Sotheby's goes public, and its shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol BID. Sotheby's is currently the oldest company listed on the NYSE.

1988

Property from the Andy Warhol Collection brings $25.3 million in New York. Later that year the Elton John Collection sells for £4.8 million in London.

1989

The Dorrance Collection of John T. Dorrance, the son of founder of the Campbell Soup Company, sells for $135.3 million, the highest total achieved for the sale of a single-owner collection.

1990

Pierre-August Renoir's Au Moulin de la Galette from The Collection of Mr and Mrs John Hay Whitney sells for $78.1 million in New York, setting the standing record for the artist at auction.

1990

The Greta Garbo Collection is sold in New York for $20.9 million.

1991

The Copeland Collection of Sports Memorabilia totals $4.6 million and includes a T206 Honus Wagner baseball card which brings $451,000, then an auction record for sports memorabilia.

1991

A first printing of the Declaration of Independence, discovered hidden in the back of a painting purchased for $4 at a flea market, sells for $2.4 million.

1993

Sotheby's first-ever sale of Russian Space History, held in New York, totals $6.8 million.


1993

A nine-day house sale at Schloss St. Emmeram in Regensburg, Bavaria, the family seat of the Princes von Thurn und Taxis, totals DM31.4 million.

1994

Sotheby's celebrates its 250th anniversary.

1994

Sotheby's holds the landmark sale of property belonging to the historic Corsini Family at the Palazzo Corsini in Florence totaling £6.8 million.

1995

The Grand Ducal Collections of Baden sell for DM77.6 million. The 15-day auction of more than 25,000 objects sets a new world record total for any house sale.

1995

A 100.10 Carat D-Color, Internally Flawless Diamond, The Star of the Season, sells for CHF18.7 million in Geneva, setting a record for any piece of jewellery at auction and for a single precious stone.

1996

European Works of Art and Old Master Paintings from the British Rail Pension Fund sell for £19.3 million in London.

1996

Property from the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the most widely publicized auction in history, brings $34.5 million in New York.

1997

Sue, the largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex ever discovered, sells at Sotheby's in New York for $8.3 million. Several organizations join together to purchase the immense fossil, donating it to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where it remains a star attraction.

1998

Sotheby's sells the contents of the Paris home of H.R.H. The Duke and The Duchess of Windsor for $23.4 million. The highest price - $2.3 million - is achieved for Sir Alfred J. Munnings' Portrait of the Duke of Windsor.

1998

Claude Monet's Waterlily Pond and Path by the Water is sold in London for a record £19.8 million. Andy Warhol's Orange Marilyn is sold in New York for a record $17.3 million.

1999

Sotheby's adds six floors and 240,000 square feet to its York Avenue premises in New York, more than tripling its exhibition and sales space. The 10th-floor galleries, designed by renowned architect Richard Gluckman, is reviewed as "one of the great dramatic exhibition spaces of New York, rivalling any of the city's museums" and remains unrivalled in the auction world to this day.

1999

Sotheby's and French auctioneers Poulain and Le Fur hold the first major house sale in France for more than 100 years. The contents of the magnificent Château de Groussay, The Collection of Charles de Beistegui, sell for 67.8 million.

2000

Sotheby's launches Sothebys.com and becomes the first international house to hold online auctions. In its landmark inagural sale, the same first printing of the Declaration of Independence discovered hidden in the back of a painting purchased for $4 at a flea market and sold for $2.4 million in 1991 sells for $8.1 million to Norman Lear

2001

Sotheby's three-day sale of art and décor from the Miami home of Gianni Versace totals $10.2 million.

2001

Sotheby's pioneering efforts to open the French market to international auction houses helps to end a 400-year French monopoly, and Sotheby's becomes the first international auction house to hold sales in Paris.

2002

Sir Peter Paul Rubens' The Massacre of the Innocents is auctioned for £49.5 million in London, which remains the world record for an Old Master Painting at auction.

2002

On behalf of the United States Government, Sotheby's sells the famed 1933 Double Eagle Coin for $7.6 million, the record for any coin sold at auction.

2003

Karl Lagerfeld's collection of Art Deco and Works of Art is sold in Paris for €7 million. The Bill Blass Collection is sold in New York for $13.6 million.

2003

Mies van der Rohe's masterpiece, The Farnsworth House, is sold to The National Trust for Historic Preservation for $7.5 million.

2004

Sotheby's sets the world record for any work of art at auction when Pablo Picasso's Garçon à la Pipe sells in New York for $104.2 million.

2004

The first painting by Vermeer to appear at auction since 1921, Young Woman Seated at the Virginals, is sold for £16.2 million in London.

2004

The Forbes Collection of Imperial Fabergé is sold privately to prominent Russian industrialist, Mr Victor Vekselberg, for an undisclosed sum.

2006

The Martin Luther King Jr. Collection is sold privately to a group of individuals and institutions who purchase the entire collection and donate it to Morehouse College in Atlanta, King's alma mater.

2006

Sotheby's establishes the standing record for any wine lot at auction when 50 cases of Château Mouton Rothschild 1982 sell for US$1,051,600 at Sotheby's New York.

2007

The 5,000-year-old Guennol Lioness is sold for $57.2 million, the standing record price for an antiquity.

2007

Sotheby's sells a 710-year-old copy of the Magna Carta for $21.3 million to David Rubenstein, who places it on view at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

2007

The Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya Collection is sold privately to Alisher Usmanov.

2007

Sotheby's becomes the first international auction house to open an office in Russia.

2007

Sotheby's holds its inaugural Evening sale of Contemporary Art in Paris, and achieves the standing record for a work of Contemporary Art in France when Francis Bacon's Seated Woman (portrait of Muriel Belcher) sells for €13,696,250.

2007

The standing auction record for a bottle of wine, in any format, is set in New York when a Jeroboam of Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 from The Private Cellar of Baroness Philippine is sold for $310,700.

2007

The Bronze Horse Head for the zodiac fountain of the Palace of the Haiyantang ("Hall of the Calm Sea") in Yuanmingyuan (or Summer Palace) is sold privately in Hong Kong to Dr Stanley Ho for $8.8 million and donated by him to China.

2008

Sotheby's New York holds the most successful auction in its history, realising $362 million with the Contemporary Art Evening sale. For the eighth consecutive year, Sotheby's sells the top lot of the year — Francis Bacon's Triptych, 1976 — for a record-breaking $86.3 million.

2008

The groundbreaking direct-to-market sale of works by Damien Hirst, Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, brings £111.5 million in London, the auction record for a single-artist sale.

2009

Sotheby's becomes the first international auction house to hold sales in Qatar with a two-day auction series in Doha which includes Orientalist Art, Contemporary Art, Important Watches and Arts of the Islamic World and brings £12.6 million. Record-breaking highlights include the Pearl Carpet of Baroda which fetches £3.8 million.

2010

Alberto Giacometti's L'homme qui Marche I sells for £65 million, the standing auction record for any sculpture and any work of art at the time of the sale.

2010

Sotheby's is once again honoured to offer jewels from the collection of The Duchess of Windsor, 23 years after the legendary auction in Geneva. Twenty pieces are sold in London for £7.9 million and are led by the Panther Bracelet by Cartier which sells for £4.5 million, a record for Cartier at auction.

2010

With the sale of The Marble Portrait Bust of the Deified Antinous (circa A.D. 130 — 138) in New York for $23.8 million, Sotheby's now holds the top three prices ever achieved for an antiquity at auction.

2010

In New York, The Finding of Moses, a 19th century masterpiece by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, sells for $35.9 million, more than seven times its presale high estimate and after an eight-minute saleroom battle.

2010

Sotheby's sets a record for any diamond or jewel at auction when a 24.78 carat Fancy Intense Pink Diamond is sold in Geneva for CHF45.4 million. The stone is renamed The Graff Pink by its purchaser, London jeweller Laurence Graff.

2010

In Hong Kong, a bottle of Château Lafite-Rothschild 1869 becomes the most expensive standard size (75cl) bottle of wine ever sold at auction, achieving HK$1.8 million.

2010

A new record is set for any printed book at auction when a First Edition Copy of John James Audubon's The Birds of America is sold for £7.3 million in London.

2010

The two-page James Naismith's "Founding Rules of Basketball" sells for $4,338,500 in New York, and Sotheby's once again holds the record for any piece of sports memorabilia sold at auction.

April 2011

Following global media attention, 3Ka-2, a critical linchpin of the world's first manned space programm and the last Vostok capsule in private hands, sells at Sotheby's New York for $2.8 million.

April 2011

In Hong-Kong, Sotheby's offering of Chinese Contemporary Art from pioneering collector, Baron Guy Ullens, commands HK$427.239.250 and sets six new auction records.

May 2011

The collection of legendary American dealer, Allan Stone, featuring important works by John Chamberlain, Wayne Thiebaud and Willem de Kooning, brings $54.8 million, well above its high estimate of $46.8 million.

May 2011

In Geneva, Sotheby's sells a Magnificant Emerald and Diamond Tiara for CHF 11.282.500 and establishes new world records for tiara at auction and any emerald jewellery.

July 2011

Franchesco Guardi's masterwork Venice, a view of the Rialto Bridge, looking north, from the Fondamenta del Carbon achieves £26.6 million and new world record for the artist.

October 2011

At Sotheby's Hong Kong, an outstanding blue and white vase with fruit sprays fetches HK$168.7 million, setting a world auction record for Ming porcelain.

November 2011

Gustav Klimt's Litzleberg am Attersee commands $40.4 million in Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening sale in New York - the highest auction price of the year in the category.

November 2011

In the Contemporary Art Evening Auction, new records are set for Gerhard Richter and Clyfford Still as well as five other artists. Still's 1949-A-No. 1 commands $61.6 million - more than double the previous auction record for the artist and the highest auction price of the year.

January 2012

Sotheby's launches its industry-leading catalogue app for iPad, combining the beauty of print catalogues with the convinience and imagination of digital for all Sotheby's auctions worldwide.

May 2012

Roy Lichtenstein's version of the feminine ideal - Sleeping Girl - achieves $44.8 million and a new auction record for the artist in Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction in New York.

May 2012

In an historic sale, Sotheby's shatters the world auction record for any work of art when The Scream, Edvard Munch's iconic image of angst and dispair sells for $120 million.

May 2012

The collection of legendary playboy Gunter Sachs - famously married to Brigitte Bardot for a time - featuring works by Andy Warhol. Yves Klein and Allen Jones sells in London for £35 million - well above the pre-sale high estimate of £25 million.

May 2012

Sotheby's opens a new state-of-art gallery in Hong Kong with more than 15,000 square feet for selling exhibitions, auctions and cultural events, enabling the company to expand beyond the traditional series of auctions in Hong Kong.

June 2012

The highlight of Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Auction in London in Joan Mirós masterpiece Peinture(Étoile Bleue) which sells for £23.5 million and establishes a new record for the artist at auction.

June 2012

Patek Philippe's Tonneau Minute Repeating Wristwatch from the famed Graves Fullerton collection achieves nearly $3 million in New York - the record for a wristwatch at Sotheby's worldwide.

September 2012

Sotheby’s becomes the first international fine art auction house in China through a joint venture agreement with Beijing GeHua Art Company, a Beijing State-Owned Enterprise, allowing Sotheby’s to take advantage of a planned free port project that GeHua is developing within the Tianzhu Free Trade Zone in Beijing.

September 2012

The estate of New York Society legend Brooke Astor, with lots that include her beloved dog paintings and signature jewels, achieves more than $18.8 million, nearly double its high estimate.

November 2012

All in one auction in New York, Rothko’s No.1 (Royal Red and Blue) sells for $75.1 million and sets records for giants of Abstract Expressionism Pollock, Kline, Hofmann, Gorky and Motherwell. The sale, which totals more than $375 million, is the most successful in Sotheby’s history.

December 2012

In London, Raphael’s Head of a Young Apostle soars to $47.9 million. Not only is this a record for the artist, it is also the most ever paid for a drawing.

April 2013

Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Doha auction achieves the strong total of $15.2 million, establishing the highest price for an auction of Contemporary Art in the Middle East region.

May 2013

Barnett Newman’s Onement VI sells for $43.8 million, beating the artist’s previous auction record by more than $20 million; in the same New York auction, Domplatz, Mailand by Gerhard Richter sells for $37.1 million, a record both for Richter at auction and for any living artist at auction.

June 2013

The 17th century Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet sells for an astounding price of $33.8 million, establishing a new world record for any carpet, as well as a new benchmark for any Islamic work of art at auction.

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