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Quest Means Business
FOX News Fallout; Supreme Court Temporarily Extends Stay on Abortion Pill Restrictions; India to Overtake China as World's Most Populous Country; U.K. Inflation Stays above 10 Percent in March; Selling the Wolf Family Collection; Dash to the Bell. Aired 3-3:45p ET
Aired April 19, 2023 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": The day has marched on and the markets have an hour to trade. This is the way the
markets are looking as we head into the final hour. Very small movements, but it is down all day. That's -- what I see there is wait and see. Wait
and see with worry on the downside.
The markets on the main events: After paying $787 million to Dominion Voting Systems, FOX News now faces a second larger defamation case.
India is set to overtake China as the world's most populous country. The strains and the issues with that.
One of America's greatest private art collections is up for auctions at Sotheby's. Sotheby's CEO tells us why uncertain economies aren't denting
the art market.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES F. STEWART, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF SOTHEBY'S: They know that these types of objects are not going to be available, possibly ever again,
and for those who love and follow these objects, this is a moment when they have to step in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: And the question, whether you can afford it.
Live from New York, Wednesday, April the 19th. I'm Richard Quest, and I mean business.
Tonight, we tell you, FOX News isn't out of the woods yet. A $787 million settlement to Dominion Voting settles only one of the lawsuits that FOX is
facing in its 2020 US election coverage. Smartmatic, another company that makes voting machines is claiming $2.7 billion for defamation.
A former producer is suing the network, claiming she was pressured to give false testimony in the Dominion case, and shareholders are reportedly
demanding company records.
One investor has already sued the FOX Chairman, Rupert Murdoch and other top executives.
As part of the settlement, FOX admits it aired blatantly false claims that Dominion rigged the 2020 election. Dominion won't get an official on air
apology. Its lead attorney, Justin Nelson tells CNN the agreement holds FOX News accountable nonetheless.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN NELSON, DOMINION VOTING SYSTEMS LEAD COUNSEL: I do hope that this really does send a message that it is so, so important to tell the truth
and that if you don't tell the truth, lies have consequences, and I think this is what it established, and that is why there is accountability today.
There is accountability to Dominion, and there is accountability to democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Marshall Cohen is with me, at Wilmington, Delaware.
Marshall, the question everybody wants to know is why wasn't an on air apology part of the settlement. You know, in newspapers, it's always part
of the settlement that you have to put in it, you have to print an apology. Why was the equivalent not done here? Do we know that?
MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Richard, it simply wasn't in the deal. If it's not in the deal, it doesn't happen. But what was in the deal was
almost $800 million that is going to change hands from FOX News to Dominion.
And as you mentioned, this is the biggest publicly known defamation settlement by an American news organization in history. How did they reach
People familiar with the matter spoke to myself and our colleague, Oliver Darcy, and they shed some light on what has happened over the last few days
to bring us to this point.
We have learned that last week, Dominion notified FOX News that its very first few witnesses would be none other than Rupert Murdoch and FOX News
host, Tucker Carlson. Those are some massive names in right-wing media. After that notification went over to FOX, the parties did try to get a deal
over the weekend. We're told that the trial attorneys who had been here in Delaware met and talked but they were incredibly far apart, but they did
agree on one thing, Richard, they agreed to bring in a mediator on Sunday night.
They notified the Judge of that decision to bring in a mediator and the Judge granted them a one-day delay. That mediator got the phone call,
literally while he was on a river cruise from Bucharest to Budapest. He got the call, he agreed to take on the job.
They spent all day Monday going through the details, skimming through the documents, trying to hammer out an accord. There was no deal going into
Tuesday, so we were all here in Wilmington for opening statements, which we were expecting.
COHEN: They even picked the jury. They swore in the jury, Richard. They went to lunch and it was during that lunch break when the deal was done and
then everyone was brought back into Court, and the Judge announced that the case was over -- Richard.
QUEST: Marshall Cohen, thank you.
The Dominion case is the largest known settlement involving a media company in the US. It's not Rupert Murdoch's costless legal defeat overall.
There was the phone hacking scandal involving his tabloid newspaper empire in the UK. "The Press Gazette" estimates that it has cost at least $1.2
billion, if you include legal fees, damages and expenses tied to the subsequent restructuring of the business.
Joe Miller is a legal correspondent for The Financial Times. He joins me now.
This idea -- coming back to this idea what people wanted to see besides the money paid because the money being paid, FOX can afford it, and it can
afford it with spare change in his pocket. But why no apology? Why did Dominion not push for an on air apology in the way you would have done if
you're a newspaper for a print apology?
JOE MILLER, LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE FINANCIAL TIMES": Yes, Richard. Well, it's a good question and a question a lot of people have been asking.
You referred there to the phone hacking scandal, and those of us who were covering that at the time will remember Rupert Murdoch, saying that it was
the most humbling day of his life. And so that came with a very public apology, so to speak, and conspicuously this settlement is void of any such
But I think the thing that is important to remember here is this is a case that was brought by a commercial entity. It may have been about the First
Amendment, about free speech in America about the 2020 election and whether or not it was stolen, but it was still brought by a private equity backed
company that, no doubt suffered quite a lot of abuse on social media, et cetera, and its staff were reportedly threatened in the wake of the claims
that were made about their devices.
But they were still in search of a payout and a payout, which they got, and they are not particularly there to stand in for American democratic
institutions and demanding an apology.
QUEST: Okay, so now we have all these other claims, particularly this Smartmatic -- I can't say that name of that company.
QUEST: Smartmatic, thank you. It's not that hard. Well, you've got their claim. Now, does this -- is this likely to be Dominion Redux?
MILLER: Well, some would say and it is early days because discovery hasn't properly taken place in that case yet. Dominion was essentially the
forerunner in the sort of wave of litigation that relates to what the conservative news network said in the aftermath of the election.
But some say that that case, which is seeking a $2.7 billion damages award is actually stronger than the Dominion case and the reason for that is
because Smartmatic played a very small role in the US elections. There was even less credibility, they would claim to any of the allegations they had
something to do with rigging the election for Joe Biden.
QUEST: So put all of this together, I can't think of any other media organization that has had to pay so much money in damages on scandals in
the way that, and I'm using it in a very broad umbrella, those titles and organs concerned with the business of Rupert Murdoch. I mean, am I missing
MILLER: No, I think observers of Rupert Murdoch's various media assets would say that this is part of the business model that it sort of operates.
These outlets operate at the edge of what is considered to be journalistic standards or commonly held journalistic standards. And then they pay out
when that line is crossed and business carries ongoing and the viewers remain.
I think there is something slightly unique about this case, which is the phone hacking scandal that we referred to earlier, for example, the
newspaper in question, the news of the world got some scoops out of it over the years. So the actual, you know, activity that led to the settlement
helped the paper somewhat whereas it's hard to see how these claims helped FOX retain any of its viewers.
QUEST: Right. But what I find interesting is some statistics I don't have to hand from where, but suggesting that actually FOX News's viewership has
not dramatically or indeed much suffered as a result, that it is, by and large held up.
QUEST: Now, if that is right, and bearing in mind the lead that FOX has in the viewership and in the marketplace, one assumes the profits keep rolling
MILLER: Yes, indeed. I mean, one of the reasons why the viewership might not have suffered because of this is that the statistics show that people
who watch FOX News, almost exclusively watch FOX News or conservative media outlets, which haven't covered much of this litigation over the last few
months for perhaps obvious reasons.
But yes, I mean, no one can really point to the fact that FOX has lost anything other than almost $800 million over this.
QUEST: Joe, before I let you go. I just wanted to get your view, the $787 million, do you think FOX will view it as a punitive measure in the way it
was intended to be or just "a cost of doing business"?
MILLER: I think the question is really, whether its shareholders will see it as the cost of doing business or not. I think that's certainly the
messaging from FOX itself, but we've already got one suit filed by shareholders in Delaware, essentially accusing the Board members of FOX
Corp of being negligent by not preventing these claims from being aired.
So watch this space, I would say. We'll find out how this settlement is characterized in a Court of equity in Delaware.
QUEST: You'll be there. We'll talk to you more. Thank you, sir. I'm very grateful.
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS tonight from New York.
India is poised to take over from China as the world's most populous nation, and yet its economic and political power is still a long way off.
The reasons and then on the wherefores.
We need to go to our colleagues at CNN USA, where there is some interesting news on the abortion pill.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: . they are extending the stay, so they are putting those -- all of those restrictions that could
have possibly taken effect, they are putting all of those on hold.
So once again, the FDA and the Justice Department have won here, though, incrementally at this point, because this case is still playing out at the
Lower Courts. But for now, Boris, it does remain status quo for the abortion pill, nothing will change. It will remain available as it did in
the previous weeks and months.
And I'm waiting to see right now the Supreme Court is going to take this case up, because remember the Lower Court here, the Fifth Circuit, they are
still really dealing with the merits of this case. They've set up a really fast-tracked briefing schedule on this, and they are scheduled to hear
arguments in this case in just about one month.
So the takeaway that I'm just getting now via paper that I've just been handed is that the Supreme Court has in fact extended this stay meaning
they are extending putting the Lower Court ruling on hold, meaning everything remains status quo. There will be no changes to the way that the
abortion pill is administered.
Good news for a lot of doctors and patients who are bracing for any changes, good news for the FDA and the Justice Department, Boris.
So I can come back with you as I know a little bit more detail, but that's the big takeaway here is that the Supreme Court is really keeping things as
they are while all of these legal wranglings play out below -- Boris.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: And Jessica, just to clarify. Have we gotten word on exactly how long the stay is going to last?
SCHNEIDER: Well, if you give me one moment here, I can actually pull this up.
SANCHEZ: Sure. This is happening live, so.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, it is happening live. So I just pulled up the order here.
Interestingly, so this order was signed by Justice Samuel Alito. He is the same justice who put out the initial order at the end of last week.
Now, he is the Justice who oversees the Fifth Circuit. So, he is putting this new ruling out, saying that the stay that was issued on Friday is
hereby extended until 11:59 PM next -- no I'm sorry, this Friday, April 21st.
SANCHEZ: This Friday.
SCHNEIDER: So wow. So once again, the Supreme Court is really just kicking the can down the road at this point. Now, just two days, two-and-a-half
SANCHEZ: Only by two days.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, this stay will be into effect until almost midnight Friday into Saturday. So, we're really going to go through this whole thing yet
again, for the third time come Friday.
SCHNEIDER: And we're going to be seeing what the Supreme Court does. It's unclear why they are only issuing it for this short amount of time. It's
possible that the Justices are still wrangling behind the scenes as to exactly what to do here and that is why we're getting these incremental
holds on this Lower Court ruling.
SANCHEZ: Jessica, we're going to give you a minute to read all the details. So please stand by.
We want to bring in Jennifer Rodgers to have a conversation with her. She is a legal expert that has been following all of this very closely for us.
Jennifer initially, right off the bat, what is your reaction to this stay? It seems like only a few days extension here.
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I really think that this means that they are grappling with what they want to do here. I mean the
chaos that will ensue, if they let any part of a Lower Court's order take effect is going to be incredible.
RODGERS: So the fact that they don't have enough votes to extend it for a more lengthy period of time, or even permanently, while the Lower Court
litigation takes effect, takes -- you know, happens, means to me that many of the Justices are thinking about affirming some parts of the Lower Court
order from Texas, which is really troubling.
So, you know, had it been a permanent stay, I would have felt pretty good about it. Unfortunately, with a two-day stay, I think we may see a mixed
bag coming from the Court on Friday, meaning that they will let some parts of the Fifth Circuit order take effect, which will be problematic for women
and doctors all over the country.
SANCHEZ: And, Jennifer, let's talk in practical terms about what this extension of the stay means. It essentially means that right now the
decision of the Lower Court is held off, is that correct?
RODGERS: It means everything is on hold, it's as if none of this litigation has happened. So Judge Kacsmaryk in Texas issued a ruling, that
would have vastly changed what happens with mifepristone. The Fifth Circuit stayed some of that change, some of that, but left a lot of restrictions in
But all of that is on hold until now Friday night, but again, the fact that they didn't give it a lengthier stay or say that until the litigation goes
through its paces in the Fifth Circuit on the merits, that means that they I think are seriously thinking about affirming some parts of what the Fifth
Circuit said, which, as Jessica outlined a few minutes ago, if they agreed with the Fifth Circuit as to which parts of Judge Kacsmaryk's order could
survive and which parts would be rejected, it would mean that women would have to go in person multiple times to their doctor and could only get
mifepristone up to seven weeks.
So it would mean a big difference -- and not through the mail, so it made a big difference in the way that patients are obtaining this drug, big
problems with the FDA and the conflict with the order out of Washington by Judge Rice, which orders the FDA to do what it needs to do to make
mifepristone still available as it has been available in the 17 States and the District of Columbia, the jurisdictions that brought in that lawsuit.
So there's a lot of uncertainty still, I guess we'll know more on Friday, but I am concerned that they will not be staying the entire thing, which is
a huge problem.
QUEST: We'll leave that for the moment.
As we continue, India is poised to take over from China as the world's most populous nation. Its and political power is still some way off, after the
QUEST: India will soon overtake China as the world's most populous nation. The UN estimates that by midyear, the country will reach one-and-a-half
billion people, that's three million more than China. The gap is going to grow. Because after all, China's population fell last year for the first
time in six decades, and the experts say that is a trend that is going to continue.
India will soon have the bigger population, its economy is no match. Take a look at the GDP per capita of both countries. The Asian rivals had similar
sized economies as late as 1990 and China opened up to the world with its mix of socialism and capitalism, it will join the WTO, World Trade
Organization, and is now much richer per capita. India was slower to modernize and is still paying the price. And you can see just the trend of
Eswar Prasad is a Professor at Cornell University and a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution. He joins me from Ithaca, New York.
Good to see you, sir, as always.
The number of people is impressive, but the economic performance doesn't come close when we compare it to China.
ESWAR PRASAD, PROFESSOR, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: So this is good news for India at one level that compared to many other countries, including China,
it has a growing population and a population that is not aging quite as fast. In fact, India as a relatively young population. Most other advanced
economies, and even emerging market, countries like China have fast aging populations, yet there is a but, Richard, and the but is that India needs
to figure out how to use this labor force more effectively.
That requires much more training and education and it requires an economy that is able to absorb this labor force effectively. So you need much
better investment, especially from the private sector and the economy needs to create much better jobs in order for this labor force to be able to
QUEST: So I suppose one tempted to go down the road of China has a command and control economy, communist structure. It basically gives little room
for dissent. It says where it wants to go and implement a policy.
India, even with strong leadership has a rambunctious democracy. It is constantly fighting amongst itself, and one argues or one asks, how far
does the political structure play a role in this?
PRASAD: It matters a great deal. One needs to think about the reforms that are necessary in order to get India on the growth path and many of those
have not worked very well, because of the Democratic structure of the government. And the fact that many of these policies that need to be put in
place could have some dislocation cost for an economy where a lot of the population does not have a good social safety net and has low levels of
But having said that, India has put in place some reforms in recent years and I think these are beginning to pay off. The question still is whether
India can really benefit from this demographic dividend in a way that would be ideal.
QUEST: But the reality is, China has turned itself into this phenomenal manufacturing machine. India, of course has Bangalore, it has tremendous
tech, but it doesn't come close in terms to the ability of efficiency, the ability of manufacturing, the quality of that, and it's not going to change
that anytime soon.
PRASAD: There is some progress, Richard.
The things that have held back India's manufacturing sector include the fact that India has been a relatively insular economy, unlike China, which
has opened up a great deal to the world. India has not had good physical infrastructure, it has had very restrictive labor laws. In each of these
areas, there has been progress in the last three or four years, but very modest still.
QUEST: So, which begs the question, if economics or business and economic growth was your only metrics, are we saying that the Chinese method has
been more efficient than the Indian method? I mean, basically the communist method versus India's rather shambolic democracy.
PRASAD: Now, certainly, in terms of economic progress, China has achieved a lot more as you correctly pointed out. China now has five times the per
capita income, five times the economic size of India. So clearly, it's got something right.
Now the question is whether there is much of a value to be put to democracy and other intangibles and for a population that is still at a relatively
low income level, perhaps economic progress is worth a lot more.
QUEST: Very, very interesting thought. Thank you, sir. I am very grateful.
QUEST: Now in today's "Connecting Africa," a shipyard in Namibia with big ambitions.
Eleni Giokos spoke to the heads of NAMDOCK, who said offshore oil deposits could fuel major growth.
ALBERTUS KARIKO, CEO, NAMDOCK: In short, we fix ships, we repair ships, right? That is the short answer.
As a shipyard, we provide various services through the vessel owners that call our port.
We've got three floating docks. The floating docks gets submerged in the water and then we raise the vessels out of the water.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST (voice over): The three floating docks can together lift as much as 30,000 tons, making it one of the
largest and most advanced shipyards in Africa.
KARIKO: We had vessels from all over the world call our ports for service -- the Netherlands, Greece, Brazil, France -- to name a few. We work on
mechanical, propulsion, electrical, carpentry, piping, and valves. These are the services that we sell.
GIOKOS (voice over): The NAMDOCK team has extensive experience maintaining and repairing a wide range of vessels from cargo ships and tankers to
offshore support vessels and drilling rigs.
KARIKO: Oil and gas is the new buzzword. It's a very exciting time for us. We have people that are well-trained to not just only work onshore, but
also to be able to work offshore. That require special skills.
There are a lot of opportunities where customers are demanding our services.
GIOKOS (voice over): The recent discoveries of extensive oil and gas reserves off the Namibian Coast suggest there is the likelihood of
significant growth in the coming years.
KARIKO: We are at the doorstep of really contributing to the GDP of our country, especially from a shipyard perspective.
GIOKOS (voice over): And Chief Executive Officer, Albertus Kariko is confident that the coming years will see an increase in maritime traffic.
KARIKO: The Port of Walvis Bay is strategically located to really benefit from the maritime traffic that we will see in the next three to five years,
probably 10 years.
We will not be a "bus stop." We will be a port where people load and offload cargo, and while they are waiting, we as a shipyard repair
facility. We are really maximized on those opportunities to make sure that we can service all the vessels that are calling Port of Walvis Bay.
It is necessary for a port to have a shipyard facility. Our vessels do not need to call ports in South Africa or anywhere else in the world, because
we provide those skills.
GIOKOS (voice over): For NAMDOCK, for Walvis Bay, and for the nation of Namibia, the future seems bright and full of opportunities there for the
QUEST: As we continue, the Wolf family spent a lifetime assembling their collection of American Art. Now, they are putting it up for sale. The chief
executive of Sotheby's will be with us, and Matthew Wolf, whose parents put together the collection tells me about the philosophy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW WOLF, ART COLLECTOR: It is important to collect something that is globally appreciated, versus locally appreciated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Despite so many increases in interest rates, authorities in the U.K. can't seem to tame inflation. Prices were up 10.1
percent in March year on year and a slight drop from February.
Food prices are a major factor, nearly 20 percent in the index, having more success in the EZ, inflation falling to less than 7 percent in the Eurozone
last month. The core reading rose slightly. Anna Stewart is in London.
I know you've been out and about.
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I took the QUEST MEANS BUSINESS credit card out for a shop, Richard, just to show how inflation is really
changing the game here in the U.K.
Still at double digits and, as you said, really driven by food. And the problem with this is food and energy, of course, makes up a huge portion of
lower income households' bills. So this is going to hurt the lower incomes the hardest.
And it's really basic. Look at this, bread, cereal; these are both up by 19 percent compared to the year before. Then we have fruit. See what happens
to these bananas once I dropped them, up 10 percent over the year. Chocolate hasn't met fare much better. Nor has honey, I believe these are
up about 17 percent.
And Richard for you, the plane, the air travel at the moment. This is an odd item to have in one's basket of shopping from the coop. But air travel
is up 24 percent from a year before. I'm not going to drop this. It's dear Winston's. We don't want to damage the plane.
But this goes to show that inflation in the U.K. is really powering on through, is dropped ever so slightly but it's still double digits.
QUEST: OK, but, Anna, why?
Why is inflation in the U.K. not responding to the very aggressive rate rises?
The Bank of England started before everybody else.
So why is inflation in the U.K. stickier than say in the U.S.?
A. STEWART: It certainly feels stickier and, Richard, we're expecting now, as of next month, to have the 12th rate hike in a row.
Why is it stickier?
Two reasons: there's food and energy. And I'm going to tackle energy because actually, this contributes over a third of that overall inflation
figure. The U.K. versus even European nations and certainly the U.S. is much more reliant on natural gas. That's just for electricity generation
but also for heating their homes.
So that's a much bigger factor. And it's not calmed down nearly as quickly. You can also go best subsidies, for instance, with other European nations.
QUEST: So knowing where you went shopping, just across the street from the studio there, you had a choice, the coop, Marks & Spencer and Aldi, which
is, of course, bargain basement, the German bargain basement store.
How much are we influenced, do you think?
I mean, I noticed you went to the coop but was that because you feared M&S was going to be more?
A. STEWART: That's -- I knew you'd ask this question. Listen, Richard and I, we debate whether to go to the coop or Marks & Spencer's most times.
He's in London. We went to the coop, Richard, because I think this is the best way to find a range of brands where as much as (INAUDIBLE), they're
very much their own brand.
So I feel like it would be harder maybe to test the inflation question. And also I know you do love the coop. It wins for you most times.
QUEST: I do, actually. I love going to the coop. Good bargains at the coop. Get your divvy. All right. Thank you. Anna Stewart, I'm very
grateful. Thank you.
Now it's only matter of hours from now, one of the world's most extensive collections of American art is going under the hammer at Sotheby's. It is
the Wolf Family Collection. It is staggeringly beautiful, the sheer number and range. I paid a visit to Sotheby's to see it before it's all sold.
QUEST (voice-over): It is an exquisite collection of American art.
QUEST (voice-over): And it was built and fueled by the oil industry. That's where the Wolf family made their money. And it took half a century
to put all this together.
There are more than 1,000 pieces of art. Their son, Mathew, walked me through what is truly the collection of a lifetime. And he was very honest
about why it was now being sold and broken up.
MATHEW WOLF, HEIR TO WOLF FAMILY COLLECTION: A lot of it is being sold to pay estate taxes of my mother. It was owned by my father. So upon my
father's death, that went to my mother's estate. And my mother passed away and now there is various estate taxes to pay. And so that's a reason why
we're selling this.
QUEST (voice-over): Every collection starts with the first piece.
WOLF: In 1970, when they moved to New York City, they just happened to purchase an apartment on Fifth Avenue across from Southern East Park
Burnett and this is their first purchase. They paid $2,400 for it, including the 10 percent buyer's premium.
WOLF: In 1970.
QUEST: Not bad investment. Too, the estimate is $300,000.
WOLF: And I guarantee you my mother was behind the purchase. And when my father found out how much she paid for it, he would have said, "How much
did you pay for that piece?
"Are you crazy?"
But now you see, my mother, as often, was right.
QUEST (voice-over): As we walked around all the porcelain for sale, the phrase "bull in a China shop" came to mind. Imagine living amongst all of
WOLF: A lot of this Chinese export porcelain was in my family's dining room, in cabinets but also on tables. And for some reason it survived. And
there really wasn't a fear growing up of breaking anything. And somehow we made it.
QUEST (voice-over): In our own smaller, perhaps, ways, we all aspire to be a collector. And Mathew has sound advice.
WOLF (voice-over): This is a window for the Coonley Playhouse done by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1912. It's important to collect something that is
globally appreciated versus locally appreciated. And whatever you do, buy the very best.
QUEST (voice-over): The breakup of this collection maybe the end of one dynasty but Mathew's sure it's the start of another.
QUEST: I'm always fascinated by auctions. While the Wolf family prepares to say goodbye to these well loved selection, I spoke to the chief
executive of Sotheby's about the significance of the auction and, of course, in the post pandemic world, the state of the auction market.
CHARLES STEWART, CEO, SOTHEBY'S: Yes, I mean, there's 1,000 objects on display. The breadth and depth and connoisseurship of the Wolfs and their
collecting activities is on full display here.
This really is the best of the best across the categories. And it does reflect not just the history of these categories and objects but the
history of the country as well in a very interesting way.
QUEST: If you take a look at the way the market is at the moment, how would you describe it?
Muted, frothy, excited: how would you say?
C. STEWART: I would describe it as very solid, certainly resilient in light of all of the uncertainty around the world. And we've seen this and
there's actually a particularly strong interest in blue chip art in objects, the best of the best.
I think, while people may be concerned about the future and the state of the world, at the same time, they know that these types of objects are not
going to be available possibly ever again.
And for those who love and follow these objects, this is a moment when they have to step in.
QUEST: The coming out of the pandemic and into a quasi recession -- because we're not quite sure what it is but it's going to be sluggish and
there's no certainty of the market at the moment.
Does that make it difficult?
C. STEWART: To be honest, I think our -- part of the reason our markets have been so resilient is, first of all, they're very global. So at the
same time as you may be seeing concerns about inflation or interest rates in the U.S., you're seeing heightened concern about geopolitics and
conflict in Europe.
But Asia is coming back out. The Middle East is very strong. There's all kinds of, you know, countervailing forces that are supporting the market.
QUEST: What's your role and the responsibility?
Obviously you don't want -- you have to obey the law, given.
But if somebody is bidding for an expensive item in the millions of dollars on any auction, is there a responsibility upon Sotheby's to make sure it is
not from sanctioned money?
C. STEWART: There are clear rules and regulations around how this works. So we preregister our clients. We follow all the applicable "know your
client" and anti money laundering protocols around the world.
And that is true of, you know, of all clients and all lots. And we do very closely follow the applicable rules. That said, at the time the Russia-
Ukraine conflict broke out, in that specific case, Russian buyers were less than 1 percent of the bidders at Sotheby's at the time.
So frankly, it's not been a sort of dramatic sea change for us.
QUEST: But you must be delighted the Chinese are coming back.
C. STEWART: Absolutely. Seeing the resurgence of Asia, the reopening of Asia, we saw our largest Chinese works of art sale in nine years two weeks
ago in Hong Kong. And we've seen greatly increased interest in Asian bidders throughout the auctions globally.
QUEST: And I love coming to these sell rooms. But I always wonder -- and I don't have an answer to this.
How can you structure an auction so that the little guy has a chance at something?
C. STEWART: It might surprise you; of course, at Sotheby's, all of the highest value lots get the attention. But the large majority of things we
sell are well under $25,000, which certainly is still an affluent market. But it's not the tens of millions that we're often known for.
QUEST: But there's no way that you can sort of say, we're going to let this one go cheap.
C. STEWART: You know, we run a fair, transparent marketplace. I think that auctions are incredibly powerful and important in terms of price discovery.
That's why they've been so enduring.
Oftentimes, we see the second bidder having an under bidder's remorse. And oftentimes the winner of the auction actually has -- takes comfort in the
fact there was a bid right behind her or him, so they know they've paid the fair price.
QUEST: The auction, the whole process is fascinating to watch. It brings out the very best and very worst in people, that moment of bidding.
C. STEWART: There's definitely a dopamine effect in the --
C. STEWART: -- in the auction room. We see this in all auctions anywhere. Absolutely the excitement, the desire, that's part of the magic of
auctions, I suppose.
QUEST: Right. I've got to be honest, the two items that I had my eye on on that auction are already well over in the online bidding anything like that
I was prepared or could afford to pay. However, there's one more item left and I'm not going to tell you what it is. We'll see before next week if I
actually manage to get it.
That's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I'll be back at the top of the hour. Together, we're going to have a dash for the closing bell. It's MARKETPLACE EUROPE