Driving value for shareholders is at the heart of Sotheby’s business review and ongoing strategy, as third-quarter results show a big rise in private treaty sales and a long-awaited boost from their online offer.
That's the message from chief
executive Bill Ruprecht as the company also highlight sales running
into the hundreds of millions of dollars in Hong Kong and New
Private sale revenues are up almost
77% in the third quarter over the same period last year, Sotheby's
report, with auction commission revenues climbing 16% in the third
The year-on-year rise for private
sales in the first nine months of the year stands at $951.2m, a 37%
October's Hong Kong sale totals were
up 105% on last year at $538m - a record sum, while the New York
Impressionist and Modern Art sales took $348m, a 71% rise and the
second-highest series total in this category in the company's
The Contemporary art sales were
running in New York, boosted totals even higher.
For the first time, Sotheby's have
presented a detailed report on their web activity, indicating that
they may have finally laid the ghost of more than a decade ago when
they lost $40m on the original abortive launch.
"Since the relaunch of our website
this summer, we have seen, on a monthly basis, as much as a 50%
increase in traffic from our very best clients," says the company
"Emerging Asian countries are among
the fastest growing regions using our website - in the period
surrounding our Hong Kong sales, the number of site visitors from
certain regions in Asia increased more than six times over the same
period last year."
Net losses - the third quarter is
traditionally loss-making because of the seasonal nature of sales -
are down 7.5% at £30.1m year on year, while profits for the first
nine months are down 7.5% at $39.2m.
All this comes as the board conduct an
in-depth review of the company's financial policies and strategy
following criticism from hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb, who has
acquired almost 10% of the business and who unsuccessfully tried to
oust chief executive and chairman Bill Ruprecht.
Sotheby's chief financial officer,
Patrick McClymont, said: "We are committed to ensuring that our
resources are appropriately allocated to the most attractive
opportunities for value creation... The goal of this review is not
only to determine the right use of capital going forward, but also
to identify new opportunities to drive value for
This will certainly involve some cost
cutting at auctions, and the board have promised to unveil their
plans next spring.
Mr Ruprecht summed up his vision of
future success as "sustained commitment to clients", which he said
was "the key to best serving them, our business and our