French-Israeli mogul Patrick Drahi set to buy auction house Sotheby's

The i24News founder's deal takes the auction house back into private ownership after three decades


The French-Israeli telecommunication mogul Patrick Drahi is set to buy Sotheby’s in a £3.2 billion deal.

Mr Drahi, the founder of Israeli news channel i24News and of the second largest telecoms group Altice Europe, has revealed himself to be “a long time client and lifetime admirer” of the famous action house.

The father of four, who is listed as the ninth-richest man in France has multiple citizenships — French, Israeli and Portuguese — while living in Switzerland.

Born into a Jewish family living in Casablanca, Morocco, Mr Drahi, 55, was educated at the École Polytechnique in Paris before beginning his career with Dutch electronics company Philips.

After founding Altice, his successes have included the purchase of SFR, the French mobile operator.

Now based in Switzerland, Mr Drahi is said to be worth £7 billion.

His deal — which values Sotheby’s at  £2.1 million — would put it back into private ownership after over three decades as a public company.

The company also has around £800,000 debt.

The purchase would also enable Sotheby’s to compete with rival auction house Christie’s, which has been able to complete many deals away from public scrutiny.

“He’s a very secretive, elitist art collector… he is particularly fond of contemporary art,” ArtPrice CEO Thierry Ehrmann told the AFP news agency adding that Mr Drahi had in his art collection some “fairly spectacular” works by the 20th century Belarussian-French artist Marc Chagall.

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