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The first nine months of 2011 saw turnover up 20% on the same period last year at $547.6m, while net profits rose 55% to $99.9m.

Sotheby's do not provide a breakdown by sales category, but improving market conditions across major fine art disciplines, such as Contemporary art, are likely to have contributed, as will have the ongoing boom in Chinese works of art.

The company's 2010 investor briefing highlights the long-term prospects for China, noting that the number of buyers from China increased 138% from 2004 to 2010, while the number purchasing items worth $500,000 or above rose by 433% in the same period.

Sotheby's also reported that in 2010, 13% of their aggregate auction sales went to Chinese buyers – in 2004 it had been 3%.

Hong Kong sale totals have also risen dramatically. In 2010 they totalled $639m (up 135% on 2009), and for the first half of 2011, they totalled $550 million, an increase of 103% on the prior year.