Sotheby's (Biographical details)

Sotheby's (dealer/auction house; British; 1744; founded)

Also known as

Sotheby's; Sotheby & Wilkinson; Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge; Leigh, Sotheby and Wilkinson; Sotheby Mak van Waay; Sotheby's & Co


34-35 New Bond Street, London, WIA 2AA


Firm of auctioneers. The dominant London book auctioneers in XIXc; after WWII under Peter Wilson expanded to challenge Christie's traditional primacy in the London art market. The main stages of activity are:
1744 founded by Samuel Baker, a bookseller
1767 George Leigh taken into partnership (Baker & Leigh)
1778 Baker's nephew John Sotheby inherits his share in the firm (Leigh & Sotheby)
1804 partnership dissolved, and firm refounded with John's son Samuel (Leigh & S Sotheby)
1818 move to 13 Wellington Street (where remained until 1917)
1864 firm restyled Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge
1917 move to 33/4 New Bond Street
1924 name changed to Sotheby & Co
1964 purchase of Parke-Bernet in New York
1977 became a public company
1983 purchased by Alfred Taubman and taken into private ownership
1988 floated as a public company again
uncertain date: purchase of Mak van Waay in Amsterdam

(Include international offices such as Sotheby's, New York.)
Sotheby's usually appear in the database as intermediaries (code A) selling on behalf of an owner, but on a few occasions the Museum purchased objects from the firm itself, e.g. in May 1931.


Archive in the BL
Frank Herrmann, 'Sotheby's portrait of an auction house', London 1980 (the official standard history)