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Photo: Michael Nagle/Getty Images

Sotheby's is being sold. French-Israeli cable mogul Patrick Drahi is paying $3.7 billion for the auction house, which is 60% more than it was worth on the public markets at the close of trade on Friday.

Why it matters: Under private ownership, Sotheby's might be better able to compete with archrival Christie's. Drahi won't stop at $3.7 billion in his attempt to equalize the two houses.

Driving the news: Drahi is the archetypal cosmopolitan billionaire. A Jew born in Casablanca who is married to a Greek Orthodox woman of Syrian descent, he lives in Switzerland and has French, Portuguese, and Israeli citizenship. He might well become an American too, now that he owns Sotheby's.

Background: To follow the history of Sotheby's is in many ways to watch the evolution of capitalism itself.

  • Founded in London in 1744, the auction house dominated fine-art trading for centuries.
  • In 1964, seeing where global wealth was centered, Sotheby's bought Parke-Bernet of New York and started expanding aggressively.
  • When it ran into financial trouble in 1983, it was bought for $125 million by Alfred Taubman, who ended up being jailed for price-fixing with rival Christie's.
  • In 1998, Christie's was bought by French tycoon François Pinault for $1.2 billion, setting off a 20-year period during which Christie's, with no particular need to make a profit, out-competed Sotheby's.
  • The value of Christie's to Pinault is not financial. Rather, the auction house gives him unparalleled insight into the behavior of the world's wealthiest individuals, and also effectively acts as his primary art acquisition vehicle.

The bottom line: Buying Sotheby's gives Drahi much more clout among the global ultra-wealthy than he would get from buying $3.7 billion of art. It will also increase his name recognition in the U.S., where he has long harbored ambitions to build a major cable empire.

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McCarthy comes out against bipartisan deal on Jan. 6 commission

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will oppose a bipartisan deal announced last week that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's opposition to the deal, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscores the internal divisions that continue to plague the GOP in the wake of Jan. 6.

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Arab American activists to protest Biden's Michigan visit over Israel support

"Free Palestine" rally in Dearborn on May 15. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arab American activists are planning a series of protests on Tuesday during President Biden's visit to Dearborn, Michigan, which has one of the highest percentage of Arab Americans of any U.S. city, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Why it matters: Arab American activists are outraged over Biden's public support of Israel's military operation in Gaza, which has killed more than 200 Palestinians, including 61 children.