Global sales for the first half of 2013 at Sotheby’s totalled $3.14bn (£2.05bn), their latest set of results reveal.
Meanwhile, company revenues for the
period stand at $406.6m (£265.7m) and profits at $69.4m (£45.4m), a
year-on-year fall of 7.7%.
The results compare to global sales
recently reported for Christie's at $3.68bn (£2.4bn), the gap
between the two auction houses in this area matching almost exactly
that recorded for the first six months of 2012.
However, at least part of Sotheby's
attention now appears to have been diverted to the expansion of
other revenue streams such as their loans portfolio.
Beyond the headline figures, Sotheby's
noted that their restructuring of the buyer's premium in March as
part of the growing competition for consignments meant that they
had taken more in fees from buyers but, consequently, less from
vendors. Overall, however, auction commission margins were up
slightly for the second quarter.
Another major focus of activity has
been investment in emerging markets in China and the Middle East as
well as the internet, an additional expense that the firm hope to
slightly offset in future by savings made from recent debt
At auction, they have also reassured
shareholders that guarantees used to secure key consignments will
take the form of irrevocable bids, where the risk is offset to
third parties rather than carried in-house.
If that source of potential income has
shrunk in the past few years, Sotheby's Financial Services has been
doing its bit to make up the shortfall, with the loan portfolio
growing by almost 30% year on year to $430m (£281m). The company
are also looking at new options for expanding this activity but
have yet to adopt any firm proposals.
Private sales continue to be another
area of intense competition as a comparatively low-cost,
high-return method of doing business, and Sotheby's have announced
the opening of a Contemporary private sales gallery, S|2 in London
this autumn, following similar openings in Hong Kong and New York -
65% of clients who transacted with the firm privately in the first
half of 2013 did so for the first time, they said.
The release of significantly more
information on their website offering indicates that Sotheby's have
grown in confidence when it comes to their internet
In the past few years online
statistics and results have been notable by their absence in
company reports, but now they have revealed that more than 30% of
all saleroom clients during the first six months of 2013 registered
for their paddles on Sotheby's website, and web platform
developments mean that clients now have the 'Martini' option of
being able to carry out transactions at any time, from anywhere, on
The board have also made it clear that
they are prepared to consider selling both their New York and
"Any transaction has to deliver
substantial post-mortgage value, while any sale must afford
Sotheby's funds for attractive purpose-built new space, which meets
the company's unique facility requirements," they
Looking forward, highlights for the
second half of the year include the firm's first automobile auction
in New York for ten years on November 21, conducted in association
with RM Auctions.