By Patrick Drahi’s own admission during a press conference this morning announcing Sotheby’s plans for a post-lockdown reopening of the art market, he had not spoken to the press for five years. When the telecom mogul concluded his remarks with the pun that his buying Sotheby’s was like “Altice’s adventures in wonderland,” the world had a better idea why he usually keeps his thoughts to himself.
Although Drahi’s decision to speak was a savvy move, giving the Sotheby’s press event more impact, there was a subtext to the appearance that should not go unnoticed. An April filing notifying bondholders that Sotheby’s would face significant challenges if business remained curtailed by the coronavirus set off a series of wild rumors in the art market about Drahi’s ownership. The filing was made before Sotheby’s management had been able to pivot their sales strategy from live auctions to a series of online events. The surprising success of those events and the prospect of the world emerging from lockdown are only now beginning to be recognized.
At the virtual press event, Drahi's presence helped speed along that recognition. He wasted no time beating back any suggestion that he might have regretted buying Sotheby’s.
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