Chinese Company Now Largest Sotheby’s Shareholder
Jul 28, 2016
The Taikang life insurance company in China is now Sotheby’s largest shareholder, having increased its stake in the auction house to 13.5 percent, according to a stock exchange filing.
Taikang is run by Chen Dongsheng, who founded China Guardian, the country’s first government-run auction house, and is married to Mao Zedong’s granddaughter, Kong Dongmei. In 2013, the duo appeared on a popular list of China’s wealthiest families and individuals, with a fortune estimated at five billion yuan ($815 million). Taikang has made seven share purchases in July alone.
“There’s always been this idea in our mind that Sotheby’s the business has not yet achieved the full potential of Sotheby’s the brand,” said David Schick, the lead luxury analyst at Consumer Edge Research, in an interview. “When we see any large purchaser of the stock it reflects a vote of confidence.”
This brings the value of Taikang’s Sotheby’s shares to $233 million, ahead of investors like Third Point, founded by Daniel S. Loeb, and BlackRock.
“Members of management and the Board of Sotheby’s have met with Taikang executives and warmly welcome their support of Sotheby’s strategic initiatives,” said Tad Smith, Sotheby’s president and chief executive, in a statement. “Sotheby’s management and board continue to implement those initiatives with the expectation that all shareholders, clients, and staff will benefit.”