Rituals of Giving: The Ultimate Sotheby's Gift Guide
As 2020 draws to a close and we reflect on how to show appreciation to our loved ones, we invite experts from across Sotheby's to share their advice on selecting the perfect memorable gift. Whether you are kick-starting a collection of contemporary art, looking to adorn your table with a show-stopping piece for a festive meal or choosing a timepiece that will be handed down for generations to come, our specialists have it covered. All items are available for auction or immediate sale in the coming weeks...

Contemporary Art

Emma Baker, Head of Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Emma Baker Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby's

My advice for starting a contemporary art collection, or buying for a loved one that wants to start a collection even, is pretty straight forward – look for artworks that bring you joy, resonate with you personally or challenge you; look for objects and artworks that you can see yourself or others living with for many years to come.

Our Contemporary Art Online auction (bidding opens on December 3rd) or our Contemporary Art Day sale in Paris (bidding opens on December 2nd) would be a great place to start – the latter offers wonderful examples from the twentieth-century canon including pieces by legendary artists Pierre Soulages, Yves Klein, and Friedensreich Hundertwasser through to contemporary names such as George Condo, Mike Kelley and Robert Longo.

"look for objects and artworks that you can see yourself or others living with for many years to come."

Thinking back on 2020, a year in which we have all had to adapt to a slightly different way of life, I am massively looking forward to sharing drinks and great food with friends and family, and eagerly anticipating whatever 2021 might bring!

Explore Contemporary Art Available at Sotheby's

Collection Theodor Ahrenberg: New Heights of New Realism

Theodor Ahrenberg was one of the most important and influential art collectors of the 20th century. He discovered a passion for Modern art during a business trip after the Second World War and started to collect, assembling one of the largest private European collections of 20th-century Western art. Teto, as he liked to be called, enjoyed meeting gallerists and artists, many of whom would go on become his dear friends. The diverse range of works includes major names in New Realism, as well as a large selection of works from Edition MAT (Multiplication d'Art Transformable). There are also pieces from the legendary 1961 exhibition The 41 present Iris Clert. Described as “mirror image of its collector” by renowned art critic Pierre Restany, this eclectic collection is testament to Teto's visionary taste.”

Explore Works from the Theodor Ahrenberg Collection


Joey Luk, Watches Specialist

Joey Luk.

A collectible watch will make this holiday season truly memorable, and there is no better gift than the gift of time. From 9-21 December, the Watches sale offers a chance to find that perfect timepiece for your loved ones, and it is also a great way to introduce someone to the world of watches and collecting. I have selected five lots in our sale for the adventurers, stargazers, eccentrics, animal lovers, and style icons in your life.

Legacy Machine by MB&F is incredibly fascinating and was designed in collaboration with renowned watchmakers Kari Voutilainen and Jean-François Mojon. The watch has a very special appeal and is incorporated with a complication known as a planetary differential. Rolex released the first Submariner with a green aluminium insert in 2003, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the legendary diver's watch. However, this timepiece was discontinued, and the updated green Submariner was launched in 2010, this time showing a fully green dial. Dubbed ‘Hulk’, the watch features distinctive aesthetics and makes a great gift for the festive season.

"A watch is extremely personal because you wear it close and it is a constant reminder of the person who gave it to you."

Inspired by Grand Prix races and produced in a limited edition of 650 pieces in pink gold, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore is a perfect choice for collectors who enjoy auto racing. The watch features a black ceramic bezel and racing-inspired elements, making it instantly recognisable by aficionados. Steiff, like all other world-renowned watch brands, creates collectible teddy bears with the highest standards and immaculate workmanship. This Steiff for Rolex is very rare to come by and without a doubt, would delight both adults and children alike.

Embellished with a brilliant-cut diamond-set bezel, the Cartier Baignoire is one of the most iconic gifts by Cartier. This classic watch features a very feminine yet sleek oval case that sits elegantly on one’s wrist and can be worn every day.

Explore Joey's Selection from the Hong Kong Watches

The Art of Humidors

Humidors from the workshop of Elie Bleu have been widely regarded by collectors as the ultimate cigar accessory. They are known for their panache and meticulous design, featuring rare materials and luxurious inlays. The most extraordinary of these humidors feature artwork by Liu Ye, Zeng Fanzhi, Wang Guangyi and Yue Minjun. In a first-of-its-kind collaboration with famous Chinese contemporary artists, Elie Bleu created humidors produced as a limited and numbered edition of 99 pieces. This eclectic auction offers an unmissable opportunity to acquire highly sought-after and unique art pieces for the cigar aficionado who appreciates something out of the ordinary.

Explore Lots from the Sale


Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head of Wine

Jamie Ritchie.

Wine collecting more than anything else is about sharing. Sharing great bottles with friends, family and fellow wine lovers is something every wine collector loves to do. There is always a story and special meaning behind every bottle, that we all love to recount! So at the time of year, it is only natural that wine is at the forefront of gift giving ideas and of course the beauty of wine is of course the versatility.

Champagne is the obvious option and you cannot go past the iconic names of Krug or Dom Perignon, however if you want to impress the knowledgeable of wine lover then look to the pioneer of grower Champagne’s, Jacques Selosse.

I am a traditionalist so I do like to focus on the classic regions of France when giving gifts to loved ones, as for many was the start of their love affair with wine. So Bordeaux and Burgundy is the obvious choice, with those preferring more structure and power I head to Bordeaux and a Burgundy for those who prefer a more delicate feminine edge. For the those with a sweet tooth the great Chateau d’Yquem from Sauternes is a no brainer!

"Champagne is the obvious option and you cannot go past the iconic names of Krug or Dom Perignon, however if you want to impress the knowledgeable of wine lover then look to the pioneer of grower Champagne’s, Jacques Selosse."

Of course wine can cover all budgets and the more diverse tastes. From the new world New Zealand and Australia are currently crafting some very fine Chardonnay’s that can be equal to the great names in both Burgundy and California. Whilst an alternative to the classics from France would be to head to Italy with Barolo of Brunello di Montalcino a great option.

As we approach the festive time of year, above all make sure you pop open some corks and try as many great bottles as possible. As the key to starting a wine collection is to taste as much as you can! The wine is hugely diverse and one never stop learning… that is why we love it so much!

Browse Wine Available for Sale in London & New York


Frank Everett, SVP Sotheby's Luxury Division

Frank Everett

"This Suzanne Belperron necklace in cabochon rubies and diamonds is a masterpiece, and the quintessential Belperron piece. It is so iconic it's even on the front cover of the book of her work."

Explore Frank's Picks from New York, Geneva & London

Lynn Chadwick's Bronze Candelabras

In partnership with the Willer Gallery, a selling exhibition of Lynn Chadwick's sculptural bronze candelabras are offered at Sotheby's.

Lynn Chadwick, 1963. Photograph by Jorge Lewinski. © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth / Bridgeman Images

"To just do an ordinary candlestick, would be an ordinary candlestick, wouldn't it?” Lynn Chadwick once observed. “So, I like to do it my way, think of a different way of approaching the subject.” Taking a different route was Chadwick’s forte. One of the most distinctive British sculptors of the 20th century, his approach to form was as much architectural as it was sculptural, a union that, appropriately, is present in his candle holders, his most domestic series of works and ones that he first designed for his own home.

The limited-edition bronze candlesticks and candelabras at Sotheby’s highlight a fascination that endured for some four decades. Chadwick designed these pieces – practical, dramatic but beautiful – from the 1950s right through to the end of his working life in the mid-1990s. The full range of candle holders produced by the Chadwick foundry during the artist’s lifetime and by the family, with his blessing, are presented at Sotheby’s. READ MORE.

"Sotheby’s has come together with our partners to host the auction ‘To Beirut with Love’ to provide much-needed relief and funds to aid the healing process."
Edward Gibbs, Sotheby’s Chairman for the Middle East

Books & Manuscripts

Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby's Books & Manuscripts Specialist

Gabriel Heaton

I don’t think you could find something that evokes Christmas more powerfully than Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, and a copy of the book originally presented by the author to a friend, complete with his handwritten inscription, would make a very special gift for someone. Dickens’s story not only stands at the origin of many of our thoughts about Christmas, but it is such a powerful and ultimately joyful plea for charity (even the Muppet version has me in tears) that I think resonates particularly strongly at the end of this difficult year.

Few of us ever read in later life with the intensity of a child so the classics of children’s literature have a special place in many of our hearts, whilst the accompanying illustrations are often our first experience of the power of visual art. It is hardly surprising that first editions of authors from Beatrix Potter to JRR Tolkien are irresistible to collectors, as are the great illustrators of children’s literature.

"Few of us ever read in later life with the intensity of a child so the classics of children’s literature have a special place in many of our hearts, whilst the accompanying illustrations are often our first experience of the power of visual art."

Of course, there are books and manuscripts that relate to every interest imaginable – and one of my constant joys is there sheer variety of books and documents that pass through our salerooms. We offer books that have changed the way people think, such as a first edition of Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, published in 1605 but with an argument that is still of relevance today. We can offer manuscripts that bring us close to the act of creation, such as Edward Lear’s charming draft of The Pobble Who Has No Toes, and letters that bring historical voices to life such as that of the great Victorian feminist Josephine Butler.


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