Auction Results

Close to $8 bn in sales at top auction house


Woman with a watch, the record-breaking Picasso picture sold by Sotheby's in 2023.

Sotheby’s recorded $7.9bn in sales last year, just short of the highs recorded in 2022.

The exclusive auction house, founded in London in 1744, enjoyed a hugely successful year that included some headline grabbing sales.

Woman with a Watch a Picasso painting, showing his ‘golden muse’ Marie-Therese Walter realised £113 million ($139 million) at auction in November.

The 1932 picture was on offer as part of the Emily Fisher Landau collection. She died in March, and the sale of her collection made nearly $430 million.

Emily Fisher Landau, whose art collection was a major contributor to a bumper year at Sotheby’s.

Probably the most notable music collectibles sale of the year was the unusual auction featuring the contents of Freddie Mercury’s Garden Lodge home in London.

Against estimates of around £10 million, Mercury’s personal effects made £40 million. There were more than 30,000 objects in the sale, including substantial collections of art brought together by the Queen singer.

A moustache comb made over £150,000, 250 times its estimate. A sports bag over £10,000 against a £150 estimate.

Sotheby’s was among the first of the big auction houses to make a success of hybrid sales in response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Brooke Lampley, global chair of Sotheby’s, credited “extraordinary collections” with the excellent results in 2023.

He added: “This next generation are embarking on their own collecting careers – making for exciting conversations as we look to support their journey, now and in the future.”

This confirms reports from other specialist collectibles areas.

For example, young, high-net-worth individuals (many of them made rich in tech or crypto fields) are said to be responsible in large part for the explosive growth in the pre-owned luxury watch market in recent years. Additionally, political and economic instability around the world has made art, coins, and many so-called “alternative investments” an attractive diversification strategy for people with money to spare.

Just Collecting