Thursday March 11, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Sotheby’s

On this Day:

In 1744, the English auction house Sotheby’s held its first ever auction (of books) in London.

Sotheby’s is a British-founded American multinational corporation headquartered in New York City. It is one of the world’s largest brokers of fine and decorative art, jewelry, real estate, and collectibles. Its operation is divided into three segments: auction, finance, and dealer with services ranging from corporate art services to private sales. It has 80 locations in 40 countries but maintains a significant presence in the UK. Its UK operation is headed by Lord Dalmeny. As of December 2011, the company had 1,713 employees worldwide. It is the world’s largest art business, with global sales in 2011 totalling $5.8 billion.

Sotheby’s was established on 11 March 1744 in London and is named after one of its co founders, John Sotheby. It is the world’s fourth oldest auction house in continuous operation after Uppsala Auktionskammare, which was established in 1731. The American holding company was initially incorporated in August 1983 in Michigan. In June 2006, Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc. reincorporated in the State of Delaware and was renamed Sotheby’s. In July 2016, Chinese insurance company Taikang Life became Sotheby’s largest shareholder. In June 2019, Sotheby’s announced that it was being acquired by French-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi at a 61% market premium.

Sotheby’s has set, then later reset, a number of world records for auctioned works of art. The following monetary values are given in United States dollars.

On 22 May 2002, Norman Rockwell’s painting of Rosie the Riveter was sold for $4.96 million.

On 3 May 2006, Sotheby’s auctioned Pablo Picasso’s Dora Maar au Chat for $95 million, becoming the second most expensive artwork ever sold at auction at that time.

On 7 June 2007, a Roman-era bronze sculpture of Artemis and the Stag was sold at Sotheby’s for $28.6 million, setting the new record as the most expensive sculpture as well as work from antiquity ever sold at auction at that time.

Sotheby’s holds the world record for most expensive piece of contemporary art ever sold at auction, with Mark Rothko’s 1950 White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), grossing $72.8 million in May 2007.

Sotheby’s set a new world record, at that time, for the most expensive auctioned work by a living artist, bringing in $17 million at a November 1986 auction of Out the Window by Jasper Johns, the first auction over $10 million in this category.

While Sotheby’s and Christie’s surpassed each other over time, Sotheby’s reclaimed the record with the first auction over $20 million in this category, Jeff Koons’ Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold), which grossed $23.6 million in a November 2007 sale.

Sotheby’s retook this record, at that time, on 12 October 2012, with the first auction over $30 million in this category, when a 1994 painting from the Abstraktes Bilder series by Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (809–4), was sold for $34 million.

On 6 December 2007, Sotheby’s auctioned the Guennol Lioness, a 31⁄4-inch limestone lion from ancient Mesopotamia. It is thought to be at least 5,000 years old. It was sold for $57 million, fetching the highest price ever paid for at an auction for a sculpture.

On 15 December 2007, Sotheby’s auctioned one of only seven copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, written by J. K. Rowling. The book was purchased for a hammer price of $3.8 million. Each leather bound copy was hand written and illustrated by Rowling, with six given to her close friends and the seventh sent to auction with proceeds going to The Children’s Voice charity.

On 19 December 2007, Sotheby’s auctioned a 710-year-old copy of the Magna Carta, the last remaining copy in private hands out of the 17 that are known to exist. The copy sold for $21.3 million.

On 3 February 2010, the sculpture L’Homme qui marche I by Alberto Giacometti sold for $103.7 million at a London auction, at that time setting a new world record for a work of art sold at auction.

On 2 May 2012, a version of the painting The Scream was sold for $119.9 million.

On 11 November 2014, the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication became the most expensive watch ever sold at auction, reaching a final price of $23.98 million in Geneva (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

I went to a Sotheby’s auction and bought a crystal ball …I figured it must be worth a fortune.

Second, a Song:

John Michael Montgomery (born January 20, 1965) is an American country music singer. 

Montgomery began singing with his brother Eddie, who would later become known as one half of the duo Montgomery Gentry, before beginning his major-label solo career in 1992. He has had more than 30 singles on the Billboard country charts, of which seven have reached number one: “I Love the Way You Love Me”, “I Swear”, “Be My Baby Tonight”, “If You’ve Got Love”, “I Can Love You Like That”, “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)”, and “The Little Girl”. 13 more have reached the top 10. 

“I Swear” was  named by Billboard as the top country song of 1994. Montgomery’s recordings of “I Swear” and “I Can Love You Like That” were both released concurrently with cover versions by the R&B group All-4-One. Several of Montgomery’s singles crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, his highest peak there having been achieved by “Letters from Home” in 2004.

Montgomery has released 10 studio albums. His first seven albums were released via Atlantic Records Nashville, and his next two via parent company Warner Bros. Records Nashville after Atlantic closed its country division in 2001. His first three albums, Life’s a Dance (1992), Kickin’ It Up (1994), and John Michael Montgomery (1995) are all certified multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); 1996’s What I Do the Best is certified platinum; while Leave a Mark (1998) and Brand New Me (2000) are certified gold.

“Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)” is a song written by Richard Fagan and Robb Royer, and recorded by American country music artist John Michael Montgomery. It was released in May 1995 as the second single from his self-titled album. It hit number-one on the country charts in the United States and Canada in July 1995. It is one of Montgomery’s best-known songs and was named Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks’ number-one single for 1995 (per Wikipedia).

Here is John Michael Montgomery performing “Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)”. I hope you enjoy this! 


Thought for the Day:

“It is only an auctioneer who can equally and impartially admire all schools of art.” – Oscar Wilde

Further to the Ford Mustang Smile:

Michael Goler of Cleveland, Ohio, USA writes:

“David, this one reminds me of the two mustangs in our family. The first was a sky blue 1967 coupe my dad owned that got totaled with us in it when we were rear-ended by a station wagon when stopped at a light.  Ugh.  The second was a red convertible manual I owned for about 4 months in the 80s that I turned back into the dealer as a lemon because the electrical harness in the dash was defective.  Sigh.

Stay well!!!


And my cousin Damian Bilinsky of Winnipeg, Manitoba writes:


Correct me if I am wrong, but did your Dad not have a cougar?


And my reply:


Quite correct. It was golden in color. That was after I moved to BC..if I recall correctly..

I remember Ed and Eileen Bilinsky had a red Mustang….



Have a great day!

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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