Mowbray in link to Sotheby's deal

Otaki-based Mowbray Collectables is linked to an auction house takeover in Australia which could have ramifications for New Zealand.

Mowbrays owns 20 per cent of First East Auction Holdings which is buying Sotheby's Australia, the auctioneer of fine art, decorative art, fine jewellery, Aboriginal art and collectable cars.

Sotheby's has agreed to license the brand name Sotheby's Australia to Sotheby's Australia Pty for use in Australia and New Zealand.

Mowbrays managing director John Mowbray said the issue of whether there would be an expansion of Sotheby's Australia into New Zealand was unresolved.

"There is certainly the opportunity there for that to occur," he said.

He said the new combined Australian company would be the largest auction business in Australasia.

"It is clearly going to be a major force in the fine arts auction world going forward," he said.

Mowbrays owns 49 per cent of Webbs, the Auckland-based auction company.

Sotheby's Australia will operate independently as a wholly owned subsidiary of Feal, which will continue to run Theodore Bruce, Bay East Auctions and Leonard Joel separately in Australia.

The transaction is expected to close later this year.

Mowbray Collectables chairman Murray Radford said this was one of the most major changes in the Australasian auction market for many years.

- NZPA

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