DEFINITION of 'Sotheby's'

One of the world's most venerable auction houses. The company is largely known for holding auctions of very valuable and rare collectors' items such as jewelry, antiques and fine art.

BREAKING DOWN 'Sotheby's'

Sotheby's acts as a market for the exchange of rare and valuable pieces for which there are few other means of buying and selling. Because of the rarity of many of the items that go onto the auction block, the company provides a way for investors and collectors to liquidate their holdings in an otherwise illiquid market. However, huge swings in value tend to be common with much of what Sotheby's sells because items such as gemstones, fine art and antiques are worth whatever a buyer is willing to pay for them at the time they are sold.

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