If Drahi’s acquisition of Sotheby’s goes through, the world’s two leading auction houses will be controlled by French billionaires. Sotheby’s arch rival in the global art auction duopoly, Christie’s, was acquired in 1998 for $1.2 billion by Artemis, a holding company belonging to French billionaire François-Henri Pinault.
In addition to owning BidFair, Drahi is the founder and controlling shareholder of Altice, a European telecommunications company. In 2015 he expanded to the U.S., buying a 70 percent stake in cable company Suddenlink and acquiring Cablevision outright for $17.7 billion, rebranding the pair into Altice USA; the new company has subsequently added other properties, most recently digital news company Cheddar. In 2016, Altice was implicated in the leak of financial documents known as the “Panama Papers,” which revealed the company had dealings with Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca in 2008 and 2010. Altice acknowledged working with the firm, but said