Sold to the highest bidder!

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Sold to the highest bidder!

seriál :: Language corner

When one thinks of auction houses, the first name that comes to mind will most likely be Sotheby´s, the largest and oldest firm on fine art auctioneers in the world.

Its London and New York headquarters have teams of specialists with expertise in all areas of the arts. In all, it has a network of 100 offices worldwide. However, not many people realize that it started out as a book-selling firm.

The company was originally founded by Samuel Baker, who in 1744 set up an auction of 457 books from library of Sir John Stanley. The auction brought in a grand total of £826.

Two and a half centuries later, in 1983, Sotheby´s sold a single book for £8,140,000: a set of gospels originally owned by Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony in the 12th century. This was not only the most expensive book ever sold at auction, but the highest price ever paid for any work of art!

When Samuel Baker died, his nephew John Sotheby joined the business and the Sotheby name has been associated with it ever since. During the nineteenth century, the company became the leading book trading business in London, with Prime Ministers Disraeli and Gladstone among its customers. As the century progressed, business at Sotheby´s turned more and more towards furniture, jewelry, paintings, and other works of art.

In the 1950´s auctions became fashionable occasions, with guests often appearing in evening dress as if at the opera or the theater. As time went by, the records set in earlier years tumbled. In 1985 a Van Gogh painting brought in £6.6 million. In Florence, a table belonging to Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, which only two years earlier had been purchased for £5,000, sold for £17,000!

Today Sotheby´s annual sales are in the billions of pounds, and the articles auctioned have become more and more diverse. 1988 saw the sale of Andy Warhol´s bizarre collection of art and Elton John´s memorabilia, including some of the crazy costumes he has worn on stage. That same year Sotheby´s held the first international auction ever to take place in the then Soviet Union, and also the first in China.

More information about Sotheby´s:,,'s

And you – to what degree are you impressed with the sums of money spent on works of art, collections or jewelry? What do you think – should there be some sort of control on the value of works of art, or should their price be determined by market forces? Waiting for your opinion…

Among = mezi
Appear = objevit se, zdát se
Bidder = dražitel
Bring in a grand = vynést ohromný obnos, zisk
Customer = zákazník, klient
Diverse = různorodý, rozličný, různý, rozmanitý
Expertise = odborná znalost, kvalifikace
Headquarter = hlavní ústředí
Nephew = synovec, vnuk, pravnuk
Occasion = příležitost, událost
Own = vlastnit
Purchase = koupit
Realize = uvědomit si
Set up = zřídit, vyvolat
Tumble = spadnout, sletět, prudce poklesnout
Worldwide = celosvětově, po celém světě

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