Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong.

Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images

Sotheby’s auction house announced Monday that it has signed an agreement to be acquired by BidFair USA, a venture wholly owned by French media entrepreneur and art collector Patrick Drahi.

Sotheby’s stakeholders will receive $57 per share in cash as a result of the transition, a premium of 61% to the company’s stock price on Friday.

The transaction, if approved by shareholders, would result in Sotheby’s returning to private ownership after 31 years as a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The stock rallied about 57% in early trading Monday following the news.

“Patrick Drahi is one of the most well-regarded entrepreneurs in the world, and on behalf of everyone at Sotheby’s, I want to welcome him to the family,” Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith said in a press release. “This acquisition will provide Sotheby’s with the opportunity to accelerate the successful program of growth initiatives of the past several years in a more flexible private environment.”

Sotheby’s was No. 2 in the world among art auction houses in the first half of 2018 with a turnover of more than $2 billion. CNBC’s David Faber first reported that Sotheby’s would be sold, citing people familiar with the matter.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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