SMITH & SINGER ANNOUNCE NEW NAME FOR SOTHEBY'S AUSTRALIA BUSINESS
SYDNEY & MELBOURNE, 1 JANUARY 2020 – From 1 January 2020, Australia's most successful auction house, Sotheby's Australia, continued business under the new banner of Smith & Singer. Sotheby's commenced operations in Australia in 1973, with its Australian auction business subsequently acquired by Geoffrey Smith and Gary Singer in 2009. The business reached the end of a ten-year licensing agreement with Sotheby's last year.
For the last 4 years the company has been the clear market leader for the sale of fine art, and for the past 10 years, the market leader for the sale of fine jewels in Australia. Renowned for its scholarship and access to the most important works by Australian historical, modern and contemporary artists, the company has also brokered the public and private sale of major international works of art locally and to overseas clients. In 2019 the company sold at auction art valued at almost $40 million, securing 40% of the Australian art auction market, and almost doubling its two closest competitors. Overall sales, including private sales and jewels, resulted in almost $70 million for the year.
Smith & Singer will continue to enjoy a close working relationship with their international colleagues at Sotheby's. All operations in Australia will remain 'business-as-usual', utilising the existing business premises in Melbourne and Sydney, staff, processes and scheduled auctions and exhibitions. Smith & Singer will continue to be the only auction house in Australia to operate an independently audited Trust Account for clients' funds. The company continues to represent the estates of the late Albert Tucker AO and David Larwill, as well as renowned contemporary artists, Criss Canning and John Kelly.
Geoffrey Smith, Chairman of Smith & Singer, commented: 'We have been the proud custodians of the Sotheby's name in Australia for the past 10 years, which has provided us with an extraordinary opportunity to collaborate with many talented individuals. Our seamless transition to Smith & Singer will provide us with many new and exciting opportunities to further research and promote the very finest examples of art and jewellery to our dedicated existing and expanding client base.'
Geoffrey Smith has a 30-year career in researching and promoting Australian and international art. Prior to his appointment as Chairman of Sotheby's Australia and latterly Smith & Singer, Geoffrey joined the auction industry in 2006. He commenced his professional career at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1990, where he was Curator of Australian Art until 2006, curating major nationally touring exhibitions and acquiring some of the most significant works for the permanent collection. Geoffrey has the highest profile of all his peers within the auction industry in Australia and is renowned for his relationships with the most significant Australian and international collectors of Australian Art.
Gary Singer has enjoyed a multi-faceted career, traversing law, property development and local government. From 2004-2008, Gary was Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne, where he was a pioneer in advocating social change for equality, with a particular focus on promoting the arts and increasing sustainable living.
Geoffrey Smith and Gary Singer have worked together at Sotheby's Australia for the past decade, personally transforming the business into the leading auction house in Australia. Committed advocates for marriage equality in Australia, they were married in 2018, at the earliest opportunity available following the transformative changes to Australian legislation.
Gary Singer, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Smith & Singer, commented: 'Geoffrey and I are extremely proud to re-brand our extraordinarily successful business under our own name as a married couple in Australia. This represents a fitting evolution in our personal and professional journey which we have shared with many Australian and international colleagues and clients. We acknowledge and thank our gifted, loyal and hard-working team who remain as committed as we do to ensuring the seamless transition of our company under its new name and as a leading Australian business of the twenty-first century.'
Charles Stewart, CEO of Sotheby's, commented: 'Sotheby's has enjoyed a productive relationship with Geoffrey and Gary for the past 10 years. We are delighted with their success in positioning the Sotheby's brand as the clear market leader in Australia and wish them every success in their transition. We look forward to continuing our relationship with buyers and sellers in Australia and further expanding the international market for Aboriginal Art through our auctions in New York.'
The last named Sotheby's Australia auction was Important Jewels held in Sydney on 4 December 2019. The first public auction held under the Smith & Singer name was Important Jewels, Watches & Objects of Virtu on 26 May, shortly followed by Important Australian & International Art on 24 June 2020.