Sotheby’s commissions rose 30 percent in first quarter

Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc. reported revenues of $96 million, a 30 percent increase over the prior first quarter, reflecting the hammer prices of property sold including buyers’ premiums, which rose 44 percent from a year earlier, as well as a 49 percent increase in private sale commissions.

The net loss for New York-based Sotheby’s fell to $3.98 million from $9.72 million a year earlier.

Sotheby’s said it usually posts a first-quarter loss, and that auction sales in the quarter historically represent only 9 percent to 13 percent of annual sales.

“As seen in these excellent first quarter results, 2006 has begun very strongly,” said Bill Ruprecht, president and chief executive officer of Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc. “Numerous collecting categories across the globe are experiencing growth.”