Sotheby’s, the parent company of Sotheby’s worldwide auction, private sales, dealer, and art-related financing activities, reported revenues of $147.4 million, a $51.4 million, or 54 percent, increase over the prior first quarter, primarily due to higher auction commission revenues largely attributable to a 52 percent increase in Aggregate Auction Sales (aggregate hammer price of property sold at auction, including buyer’s premium).
Because of the seasonal nature of the art auction market, the first quarter, which ended March 31, has traditionally been a loss period for Sotheby’s. However, for the first quarter of 2007, the company is reporting its highest income from continuing operations with a profitable $24.3 million, compared to a loss of $3.9 million for the same period in the prior period.
This growth, largely due to the increased auction commission revenues highlighted above, is partially offset by certain expense increases. Salaries and related costs increased $10.8 million, or 25 percent. Excluding a $2.6 million unfavorable impact of foreign currency translations, salaries; related costs increased $8.2 million, or 19 percent, primarily due to higher full-time salaries, the company said.
“2007 is off to a tremendous start as evidenced by these outstanding first quarter results,” said Bill Ruprecht, president and chief executive officer of Sotheby’s. “A number of collecting categories across the world are experiencing growth, with the most important contributors to the first quarter being London’s best Impressionist and Modern Art and Contemporary Art sales ever; historic highs for Old Master Paintings and record Asia week sales in New York.”