Published: May 11, 2017
NEW YORK CITY — Sotheby’s reported results for the first quarter of 2017 on May 10, announcing a net loss of $11.3 million, a 49 percent improvement over the same period last year. The firm said the improved result was due to a 23-percent increase in agency commissions and fees, which went up to $18.4 million, as well as a 41 percent rise in private sales.
In a conference call, Sotheby’s president and chief executive officer Tad Smith said that measures of the art market “show signs of strengthening,” with recent auctions in Hong Kong bolstering healthy sales across the board.
“In this seasonally quiet first quarter, our results improved significantly, reflecting greater confidence in the market,” said Smith. “Looking ahead, we also see signs of strengthening in the consignments for our important upcoming sales of Impressionist, Modern and contemporary art in New York that take place next week.”
The worldwide art auction market has two principal selling seasons, which occur in the second and fourth quarters of the year. Second and fourth quarter net auction sales have historically represented approximately 80 percent of total net auction sales for the year. Accordingly, Sotheby’s financial results are seasonal, with peak revenues and operating income occurring in those quarters. Consequently, first and third quarter results have historically reflected lower revenues when compared to the second and fourth quarters and, typically, net losses due to the fixed nature of many of Sotheby’s operating expenses. Because of this, management said it believes that investors should also consider results for rolling six- and 12-month periods, which better reflect the business cycle of the art auction market.
For information, 212-606-7000 or www.sothebys.com.
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