Auction sales rose 8% to $4.6bn, led by a 29% increase in sales of Contemporary art and a 33% improvement in sales of Impressionist and Modern art, compared to the prior year. Private sales grew 28% to $744.6m, a four-year high. Its profit was boosted by a 10% increase in commissions and fees.
Asian clients contributed $1.6bn of auction sales in the period and total sell-through rates increased to 80%. It said 23% of its lots sold online during the year.
Overall its top lot of the year was Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (1982), which set a $110.5m auction record for the artist.
Tad Smith, Sotheby’s CEO, said: “We had a very good year in 2017, and we are planning to have an even better one in 2018. The 1937 Picasso we sold for $70m in London last night is certainly a pleasing indicator for the year ahead.”
Splitting out the most recent period - the fourth quarter of 2017 - net income was better than expected, up 17% to $76.7m and sales increased to $315.6m.
During the full year it held 300 auctions and offered more than 50,000 items for sale, a 6% increase on the year before.
Recently rival Christie’s reported a 26% increase in 2017 global sales to £5.1bn. It does not reveal a profit figure.