Charles Stewart, CEO of Sotheby’s

Published on17 MAY 2023

In a conversation with Kim Posnett, global head of Investment Banking Services and co-head of One Goldman Sachs, Charles Stewart discusses trends in the art world, how art as an investment is evolving and the role of art in culture. 

On transitioning Sotheby’s into the future: Sotheby's is a nearly three century old company… COVID in a way created a very natural pivot to try new things. The old way of selling art— you print a catalog, have an exhibition and then have a live auction. [But we] couldn't write or print a catalog, couldn't have an exhibition, couldn't have a live auction. So, then it was do you want to have a digital catalog, a digital engagement experience, and ultimately a digital auction? As an example, in 2019, in terms of all of the bids that we take across all of our auctions around the world, less than 50% of them, closer to 40%, were online bidding. Last year, it was 92%... It's a quantum change in how you engage your audiences. 

On art mirroring society: All contemporary art, or art being produced today, is really a lens or a mirror that shows who we are in a given moment. You could look back at Warhol producing in the early sixties, and the rise of mass media and the commentary he was making about it, that was art of that moment that still resonates with us today. It was important. It was original. 


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This episode was recorded on April 10, 2023

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