The question is delicate for a publicly traded company, unlike rival Christie’s, whose performance has not a direct feedback on the stock market. The figures for the second quarter for Sotheby’s testify the delicate economic situation in which we are at the time, with earnings of auction sales decreased by 18% for a total of $ 303.9 million. The first half situation is even more stark: a decrease of 42% in net income, with a total revenue of $ 408.9 million, -16% over the previous year. To affect these values was the lowest number of single owner sales (-55%), added to overalls much more meager. The impact of the decline in total revenues was partially offset by a reduction of the total expenses of $ 13.6 million, or 8% for the second quarter and 3% in the first half. The second percentage is lower because of the dispute with art handlers and their unions, for TFR to be paid to employees in exchange for their voluntary termination of employment.
William Ruprecht, Sotheby’s chief executive, said in a conference call with analysts and investors that “the results reflect the state of the global economy that we are all living. The turnover is low because sales are down. The overall health of the business is intact. ” Despite the increase in record sales and the record of Munch’s The Scream in May to $ 119.9 million, the auction sales of the first half for Sotheby’s is very low compared to Christie’s, announced last July amounting to $ 3.5 billion.
Next to Munch, the other remarkable sales of Sotheby’s to remember are the exceptional sale of Gunter Sachs in May, for a total of $ 65.5 million, which doubled its estimates; in June the record for Joan Miro with the work Peinture (Etoile Bleue) sold for $ 36.9 million, to $ 9.7 million for the painting of Picasso’s Homme assis during the auction of Impressionist and Modern Art in London.