Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted Access (SIA Only)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Maria Sancho-Arroyo

Second Advisor

Eric Wolf


This thesis wants to investigate the evolution of marketing at auction houses, comparing especially Sotheby’s and Christie’s through the years. This was done by analysing five different campaigns that had a particular impact. In particular, I focused on the case of the Last Leonardo, sold by Christie’s in 2017. The purpose of the study is to understand how the two most important auction houses in the world have been shaping their marketing tools and what has been the impact on their brand as well as auction results. The challenge with this study are that there is not much written about the subject and that the auction houses' internal marketing strategies are kept secret. The methodology for this thesis consisted of observations, analysis of the findings, and comparisons of them. The literature, which includes articles, videos, papers, and books, serves as a starting point for the observation and analysis of the subject, which I conducted under the lens of the knowledge I have acquired during previous studies of marketing. From my research, I found that today, more than in the past, auction houses have the capability to evolve in the use of marketing tools, especially digital ones, and gain an advantage from it, even if the adaptation has been slower with respect to firms in other sectors. The cases I studied are an example of how a catalogue, a video well produced, and more generally, storytelling, when well done, can shift the perception of the public in the desired direction, making it possible to achieve extraordinarily superior results.