Sotheby's was founded on 11 March 1744 in London, the day Samuel Baker auctioned the library of John Stanley, for a few hundred pounds sterling. The auction house then extended its activities to the sale of artworks and jewellery, opening an office in New York in 1955. Sotheby's was the first to organize sales in Hong Kong and in the former Soviet Union.
Some historic auctions have marked the memory of professionals and amateurs alike: the jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, the estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, 'Aristotle with a bust of Homer' by Rembrandt, 'The Massacre of the Innocents' by Rubens, 'Garçon à la pipe' by Pablo Picasso, 'Triptych, 1976' by Francis Bacon, the yellow-ground famille-rose double-gourd vase of the Qianlong dynasty, the Guennol Lioness dating from the 3rd millennium BC, 'The Walking Man I' by Alberto Giacometti ... And with each season, sales in London, New York, Paris, Geneva and Hong Kong keep setting new records.
Today, Sotheby's has a network of 90 offices spread across 40 countries and organizes more than 350 auctions per year, in 70 categories. Thanks to BidNow, clients can follow all of Sotheby's sales live and bid online and in real time, regardless of where they are in the world. The website offers its visitors the latest artistic news. The partnership with Ebay makes it possible to make our sales accessible to some 145 million buyers.
For centuries, Belgium has had a dynamic market and a long tradition of art collectors and amateurs. The art market in Belgium is one of the most active in Europe. In some sectors, Belgium has world-renowned collectors, such as Chinese Art, Tribal Art, Modern Art, Contemporary Art and Ancient Painting. That is why, since its foundation in Brussels in 1975, Sotheby's Belgium, working in close collaboration with international experts, has continued to develop as a consultancy for its international sales.
Among the best-selling works from Belgian collections auctioned by Sotheby's, let's mention the important 19th-century collection of the Brussels gallery M&N Uzal in London, or that of the Chinese contemporary art of Guy and Myriam Ullens, sold in 2011 in Hong Kong, or the wonderful collection of contemporary and modern art of Zaira and Marcel Mis in Paris in 2012. In 2014 in London, Sotheby's presented a remarkable group of ancient Flemish paintings collected by the Belgian industrialist Evence Coppée III.