Tuesday 29th April – 14th meeting of 2014
Today something completely different for us – a tour of Sotheby’s. Our usual meeting place Charing Cross and then because of a strike by London Underground, we got a bus to Bond Street, a short walk and we were at the New Bond Street Office in good time for our 10.45 appointment.
We were met at the reception desk by Francisca a young lady who was to be our guide. She gave us a little insight into the plan for the morning and then took us up to the third floor, using some old winding carpet covered stairs, to The Board Room. There we had tea/coffee/biscuits all very nicely presented and then sat at the boardroom table! This was a beautiful room with stunning furniture.
Sotheby’s started in a building in the Strand in London in 1744 dealing in books and prints but in 1917 moved to New Bond Street because they were running out of room! Over the years they have acquired adjoining houses making the premises we see today. They are now noted for the fine art, Chinese ware and are the top Auction House. We were introduced to a young lady who was an expert on all things Chinese. She gave us a talk on Sotheby’s Chinese market. As there was to be a Chinese sale on 14th May she showed us many items that were up for auction and also a slide show covering the history of Chinese ceramics. We were not allowed to hold any of the objects but could feel and touch them!! Just as well because can you image dropping something worth a million or more!!
From here we were taken downstairs to the main auction rooms and into a room where they were some old masters paintings on display. Here a lady who was an expert on old masters described how they identify genuine paintings and went into details of some of the paintings on show.
After this we were taken out of the building across the road to the modern art collection. Here Francisca left us to wander around and suggested that we visit the auction that was going on. We did exactly that and I found it really interesting and exciting watching the bidding. I must add that we all sat on our hands so that we weren’t tempted to bid!! Items on sale were from the home of Michael Winner and included sofa, cigarette lighters, vases and ornaments. Most of the bidding was by telephone and internet.
This was a very fascinating day and we were all surprised to find out that the anyone can go in to look at the forthcoming items that are up for sale. There were lots of people looking at all the objects on show for future auctions. The atmosphere there was very friendly and calm which quite surprised me! And from our conversations with the experts it seems it has a very family feel and must be an exciting place to work!
We all thoroughly enjoyed this tour and would recommend it. The cost was £22 each and that included the refreshments. How nice to be able to say that you have had coffee in The Board Room at Sotheby’s!! That is certainly the most exclusive place that we have ever had our coffee!!