Sotheby’s Old Masters team has been the dominant force in the market for a generation. In 2020 we met global challenges with digital innovation and great success both in the number of sales held and in our remarkable results. Our global team once again led the market, selling a higher value of Old Masters at auction than any competitor for the eighth time in the last ten years including the sale of Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait for £14.5 million. At the beginning of 2021, we sold Sandro Botticelli's Portrait of a young man holding a roundel for $92.2m, making it one of the most valuable Master paintings ever sold at auction.
Our success is due to the remarkable tenure of our team of over twenty specialists, seven of whom have worked together at Sotheby’s for over thirty years; our understanding of the ever-evolving marketplace; our unparalleled relationships with collectors old and new; and our focus on quality, bringing the very best works to market. The market has become ever more international, attracting collectors from all over the globe.
Innovation is at the heart of what we do, and Sotheby’s Old Masters team is constantly breaking new ground in the ways we both promote and sell Old Masters. In 2018 and 2019 we collaborated with Victoria Beckham in what would become one of the most successful marketing campaigns of the year across the whole art market, and we launched the largest ever selling exhibition of Old Masters in Asia with great success. In 2019 and 2020 we engaged in partnerships with influential voices including Fabrizio Moretti, visual artist and drummer of The Strokes, and collaborations with culture-conscious brands like streetwear company HighSnobiety and Bulgari. In 2020 we also partnered with Old Master galleries and dealers across the world to present unique online-only auctions that supported our industry through challenging times.
The department offers paintings by European artists from the late 13th to early 19th centuries. In London, our major Old Masters auctions take place in July and December; in New York in January and May; and in Paris in June. We hold auctions of more moderately valued works throughout the year in both London and New York. Consignment deadlines are typically eight weeks prior to the sale.