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Insurance magnate becomes Sotheby’s biggest shareholder

Insurance magnate becomes Sotheby’s biggest shareholder

Insurance magnate becomes Sotheby’s biggest shareholder Sotheby’s has a new largest shareholder in the form of Taikang Life Insurance - with the insurer purchasing a 13.5% stake in the auction house, the Daily Mail reports.

Taikang is headed by businessman Chen Dongsheng, husband of Kong Dongmei, who is the granddaughter of former chairman of the Communist Party of China Mao Zedong. In 2013, the couple together were ranked 242nd on a list of China’s wealthiest people.

Chen is a powerful figure in the Chinese art world, founding China Guardian Auctions to emulate the work of Sotheby’s in 1993. With this latest purchase, Chen has cemented China’s influence in the international art world.

Taikang has been slowly upping its stake in Sotheby’s since June, gradually buying up eight million shares to secure its current share of the company. Its shares are worth approximately £175 million in total.

In Chen’s memoir, he wrote his love of art dated back 30 years.

“The images of the auction on television seemed inconceivably distant from my own life,” he wrote. “So aristocratic, so refined. For China, an economically backward country that had never shaken off its revolution, the disparity with those scenes on television was too much.”

Sotheby’s has also recently been pushing to grow its business in Asia, with its Hong Kong, Shanghai and China arms now accounting for 15% of the company’s total revenue.


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