Today’s topic covers what flying a private jet to auction houses worldwide is like. Unsurprisingly, many of our customers have a particular taste for the best things in life. With art being perhaps the ultimate frontier of exclusivity, we decided to invite you to some of the finest auction experiences.
Over the following few lines, you’ll be able to get to know some of the best auction houses in the world. We’ll share a few details on their rich heritage, items sold on auction, and any upcoming events you may want to consider.
The premise remains similar to our other articles: enjoy the commodity and flexibility of flying on a private jet while making the most of exclusive experiences.
There are several reasons why Sotheby’s is a truly global brand, considered the best auction house in the world. You can find it represented in over 40 countries across 80+ locations. Nine salesrooms and private galleries are located around the world’s most influential capitals.
As a result, the famous auction house conducts over 250 auctions annually across dozens of distinct categories. Born in London in 1744 through the hand of Samuel Baker, a bookseller, it was initially branded Baker & Leigh. Due to his partner’s nephew, John Sotheby, the company eventually took on the latter denomination.
With over seven different names across its history, it tells a different story on branding and the importance of remaining relevant in such a distinct area of business. In 1965, the company changed its headquarters to New York, in the United States.
A global expansion arrived shortly, with representation opening in Paris, Los Angeles, and other ground-breaking incursions, such as Hong Kong (1973) and Moscow (1988). The XXI Century brought a fair share of pain, primarily due to the financial crisis of 2008, which also took a toll on art prices.
By 2016, Chinese insurance company Taikang Life became the largest shareholder, only to swap hands again with Patrick Drahi, a telecom tycoon with a fortune estimated at over US$11.7 billion. This heritage places it as the top auction house worldwide. As a result, the company expanded to other areas of influence, including scientific research, wine advisory services, and many more.
In May 2022, The Macklowe Collection, with works by Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Mark Rothko, was sold for $264.1 million. One of the pieces de resistance was Warhol’s Self Portrait, with an estimated worth between $15 to $17 million.
However, Mark Rothko’s Untitled painting took the collection to stellar values, reaching $48 million. The combined figure for the group earned $922.2 million and is regarded as one of the most relevant auctions in history.
You can find several representatives all over the world, as follows:
Those interested can also access auctions through digital platforms and participate online. Naturally, you’ll miss out on the various exciting adventures a private jet flight can offer, but you’ll surely gain in commodity.
The famous auction house made global news on November 15, 2017. Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi was sold to Badr bin Abdullah Al Saud for $450.3 million. It remained a record price paid for a single painting. While these numbers are impressive, several others witness the success and importance of one of the world’s best auction houses.
Christie’s opened in 1766 in London through the hand of James Christie. After expansion occurred across several art galleries in the city, the company kept growing in reputation and reached New York.
Nowadays, it is the property of the Groupe Artémis, a key player in luxury, fashion, tourism, news and even sports. Across its portfolio of brands, we can find Puma, Artemis Domaines – responsible for the exclusive Château Latour wine – Ponant luxury cruises, and the not less impressive Stade Rennais F.C. football club.
Several representatives can be found worldwide across the list of Christie’s auction salesroom locations:
Numerous events can be found across its calendar, where you can participate in loco or online. Many upcoming auctions include valuable works of art, fine jewellery, Swiss watches, fine and rare wines, and even exclusive handbags are frequent auction pieces.
China Poly Group is the owner of Poly International Auction, a powerful conglomerate listed in Fortune 312 among the wealthiest companies in the world. Despite its recent foundation, the auction group has already demonstrated its full potential in its debut. The first auction raised 560 million RMB, circa $80 million dollars at today’s exchange rate. The immediate success allowed the house to instantly become a first-class company, ranking among the largest in China.
We find a wide range of artefacts listed by the Poly group. There are ancient and modern paintings, ceramics, manuscripts, books, clocks, watches, and jewellery. One of the best auction houses connects deeply with the local culture, also auditing legendary Tibetan Buddhist items such as wines and liquors, ancient instruments and other valuable artworks.
Despite focusing most of their work domestically, including attracting investment and partnering with other international auction houses – such as Phillips – you also find subsidiaries in other parts of the world.
The main locations of Poly Auction are as follows:
On Poly Auction’s official website, also available in English, you will find a calendar of upcoming events and a list of items for online bidding. For those who love the beauty of Chinese culture, Poly Auction is a mandatory stop.
Phillips is one of the most renowned auction houses for collectors looking to buy and sell the most important pieces of 20th-century and contemporary art.
Its history takes us two hundred years back in time to its foundation in 1796 by Harry Phillips. The location is not less impressive, taking its place in Westminster, on the shores of the River Thames, London.
Harry was regarded as a man of genius and innovation, with particular skills for handling businesses. His auctions were famous due to hosting a reception for the guests, a practice still maintained to this very day.
He also made a name for himself by auctioning off items belonging to Queen Marie Antoinette and Napoleon Bonaparte. Amongst these unique accomplishments, Harry Phillips also had the distinction of being the only person to hold an auction inside Buckingham Palace.
Phillips Gallery at Mandarin Oriental lobby by Gee Wang Wong
The company is currently based in New York on Park Avenue. Phillips is firmly established as one of the largest in the auction houses business. As well as conducting auditions, they also hold exhibitions all over the world.
You can find Phillips’s strong presence in the following locations:
Visiting the galleries and attending auctions hosted by Phillips is a guarantee of finding the best artworks of the contemporary era. As you might expect, their art experts are amongst some of the most reputable worldwide. More than an experience across auction houses, it is a unique moment to enjoy the finest things in life.
Heritage is an auction company established in 1976 in Dallas, Texas. The auction house places itself as the 3rd largest auction company in the world. Its principles are driven by a transparent and clear relationship with its clients, ensuring unbiased information to support fairness across all parties involved.
Some of the areas of expertise include various American and foreign currencies, rare currency, decorative items, illustrations, movie posters, jewellery, tapestries and much more. The company is famous for promoting auctions of personal items from celebrities and other notable personalities, such as items belonging to actor John Wayne and Sylvester Stallone, alongside personal items from Astronaut Neil Armstrong.
Other remarkable achievements also include some of the company’s records. The auction of a Michael Jordan card signed by the player was sold for $1.44 million in 2021. Unsurprisingly, it made it the most expensive Jordan card in history.
You can visit Heritage Auctions in several locations across America, Europe and Asia, including the following:
Heritage Auctions guarantees intelligent and assured investments that ennoble the hoard of any collector. Not less interesting is the fact you can own luxurious memorabilia owned by true pop and cultural icons thanks to their work.
Returning to big auction companies in Asia is China Guardian. A young company established in May 1993, working mainly with Chinese cultural relics. The group has processed over 450,000 items in its 29-year-long history of success.
China Guardian owns a beautiful art complex in Beijing, appropriately named the Guardian Art Center. It is also present through its own app, ensuring you can participate in an auction anywhere, right from the convenience of your mobile screen.
Part of the company’s personality lies in returning old and historically valuable items to “their rightful home”. Its auctions have brought back important national treasures from abroad that returned to China and took their place in locations such as the Shanghai Museum.
You can find China Guardian representations in the following cities:
With China Guardian, you will find the finest examples of Chinese culture. From stamps, coins, jewellery, ancient and rare books, wines and teas, furniture, scriptures, porcelain and other objects of interest. This is the partner to consider for those passionate about Chinese rich heritage and beyond.
Yet another one of the most prominent auction houses in China and Asia, overall. Holly International auction house was established in 1994 and was called Guangzhou Guardian at the time, changing its name in 2011. The company has the highest level of auction houses granted by the Chinese government. Their AAA level demonstrates strength and reliability. Since 2015 the company has been part of the Infore Investment Group Co.
This auction house deals with the most diverse items of Asian history, including scriptures, paintings, calligraphy, handicrafts, books and scrolls, tea, porcelain and jade, furniture, and other objects of great symbolic value. All under the supervision of the renowned Dr Li Yifei, who is not only the president of the company but also its founder.
You can find Holly International’s offices at the following locations:
Holy is another prominent auction house focusing on the Asian market that is worth considering for truly unique treasures. Their ability to bring unique heritage pieces is remarkable while being based at some of Asia’s biggest business capitals.
Bonham’s auction house is one of the most renowned in the industry, reflecting great tradition and exemplary reputation. It dates back to 1793, when Thomas Dodd founded it. Over its more than 200-year history, the company has undergone many changes, but it has consistently grown in its own market niche.
Today, Bonhams has more than 400 sales specialists working with art, antiques, jewellery, collectables and unique cars. Many rare items have passed through their hands, breaking record sales. Such is the case with the Portrait of François-Henri, 5th Duc d’Harcourt, by French painter Jean Honoré Fragonard, which sold for more than $20.000.000 million in 2013.
Bonhams’ headquarter is on New Bond Street in London’s Mayfair area, one of the most luxurious districts in the world. Their experts claim to offer the most advanced salesrooms, emphasising light and space, ensuring an excellent atmosphere for a sales session. In total, three rooms can hold auctions simultaneously, reaching larger audiences, while several pieces can be sold throughout each event day.
Bonhams can be found at the following locations:
With a long history of success and thousands of auctioned items, Bonhams is one of the top auction houses to visit. We suggest chartering a private jet flight to London and making the most of your stay – even if you refrain from making an offer on a multi-million-pound painting.
For those enthusiasts in the appreciation and collection of watches and clocks, Antiquorum is undoubtedly one of the top auction houses to consider. They are world-renowned as one of the leading experts on Timepieces worldwide.
Antiquorum even holds the record for the highest auctioned wristwatch of all time; a 1939 Patek Philippe World Timepiece auctioned for no less than $4 million in 2002. Unique pieces deserve unique price tags, but there is surely something for everyone at this exclusive auction house.
Its auctions feature magnificent pieces from the finest watchmakers and unique watches with historical value. Some of which have belonged to notorious celebrities and personalities. Such is the case of the Longines wristwatch sold in 2008, which belonged to none other than Albert Einstein. At the time, the auction settled for nearly $600,000, which may be a tidy too sharp for a Longines – but not for its history.
The company hosts circa ten auctions annually in various cities around the globe. Their online presence is also solid, with a well-designed website. Here, you can follow up on bids, admire pieces in incredible detail, and consult both the watch databases and the biographies of their experts.
Antiquorum is present in the following locations:
Antiquorum’s auction is always amongst the most sought-after for watch collectors, therefore will be worthy of a visit for those passionate about time.
In Korea, we find the remarkable presence of Seoul Auction Co. Ltd, established in 1998. This auction house is the largest in that area of the globe. Their first public auction took place in 2004 and marked the beginning of a successful operation.
One notable current achievement was the processing of “Genre Painting” by master Kim Hong-do, which Ansan City’s own local government acquired for $419,000.
With the rising strength in the industry, Seoul Auction now occupies the Seoul Action Gangnam Center in Sinsa-dong. This fantastic 13-storey building hosts events and acts as a cultural centre. The objective is accomplished: allow people to appreciate art in their daily lives.
To participate in the house auctions, it is necessary to register in a member system. Once registered, users can access all the information needed to participate in events. Not less importantly, they can also bid online. Their work has a wide range of modern and contemporary art items. Despite being the largest auction house in Korea, Seoul Auction still finds little representation elsewhere in the world.
Outside Seoul, you can find them in the following locations:
For those who want to experience Korea’s booming trade and visit its best auctions, Seoul Action brings you the best that can be found in the region. Should you find yourself in the city for business or pleasure, a unique experience surely awaits at the Seoul Auction.
Even with the facilities offered by online auction houses, nothing compares to the thrilling excitement of competing in person for the desired relic, bid by bid. For this reason, auction events have become a sought-after travel destination. Particularly for those with exquisite taste who want to add to their collection and engage in an exciting competition.
The best way to attend any of these great auctions is by chartering a private jet. That ensures a safe journey for you and your new collectables, ensuring they arrive at their final destination in safe fashion – while you travel in ultimate style.
Contact our team for a free quote and attend the next big auction anywhere in the world. Ancient treasures, unique pieces of art and the thrill of the chase await.
We have prepared some pertinent questions to clarify any doubts surrounding auction houses. If you do not find your answer here, please do not hesitate to contact us. We aim to bring you not only the finest experiences in life, but also the ideal means to get there and back.
The top 5 auction companies are Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Poly, Heritage and Philips. We list such companies sequentially by sales volume in 2021. The top two positions find themselves rather close, with transaction values of $7.3 billion and $7.1 billion, respectively.
First, you need to consult the auction houses calendar of events. This information is usually accessible on their official websites or via email and telephone. Most auctions are open to the public free of charge. It may be necessary to confirm your attendance beforehand and pay fees for special events. With everything booked, take off in a private jet and enjoy the excitement of these on-site auctions.
You can and you should. By hiring a private jet service, you can attend the best auctions in the world in complete privacy and without the hassle of commercial flights. More importantly, around a schedule that works for you, and with utmost convenience.
Yes, it is possible for a private jet to carry your auction wins back home safely. You definitely don’t want to ship your prized possessions on a commercial flight or to a delivery company. Even though many auction houses will ship your items anywhere, sometimes you just want to be practical. Keep your artworks and relics side-by-side throughout the journey, ensuring their safety and integrity.
Most high-profile auctions are still open to everyone, but you will need to confirm your attendance one or two days in advance, and a fee will be charged. Some specific events are only open to licensed dealers or members of a registered association.