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Comparing extraordinary costs for the period, 2002 saw the company having to pay out $20.1m for the fine imposed by the European Commission in its antitrust investigation and $5.5m in retention costs and restructuring fees. In 2003, the entire extraordinary costs programme had fallen to $2.7m.

Changes in revenues for the comparable periods were almost entirely influenced by the $76.7m price achieved by Sir Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece Massacre of the Innocents in 2002.

As Sotheby’s point out, the third quarter is historically a period of minimal sales activity in the art auction market, often making up less than 10 per cent of the annual total, so losses are normal even without the unusual costs the company have faced in recent years.

The figures comparing the first nine months of 2003 to those of 2002 tell a similar story to those for the quarter comparisons, but there have some been significant changes in policy, notably a decision to cut the number of lots offered at auction, which had the knock-on effect of reducing costs in areas such as catalogue
production.

SOTHEBY’S THIRD QUARTER RESULTS

2003

Total revenues: $42.3m

Net income: –$27.4m

Net income
excluding –$25.7m
extraordinary costs*

*Extraordinary costs mainly relate to anti-trust matters, restructuring and employee retention costs

2002
Total revenues: $48.4m

Net income: –$43m

Net income excluding extraordinary costs* -$18.8m

SOTHEBY’S FIRST NINE MONTHS RESULTS
2003

Total revenues: $208.9m

Net income: –$40.9m

Net income excluding
extraordinary costs* –$30.5m

*Extraordinary costs mainly relate to anti-trust matters, restructuring and employee retention costs

2002

Total revenues: $220.8m

Net income: –$48.2m

Net income excluding
extraordinary costs* –$18m