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Sotheby’s Posts $27.8 M. Third-Quarter Loss, Says 2019 Market Will Be ‘a Bit More Subdued’

Sotheby’s President and CEO Tad Smith.


Today Sotheby’s reported a net loss of $27.8 million for the third quarter, which ended September 30, a 19 percent drop over the $23.5 million loss it posted last year for the same period. (Since fewer big-ticket auctions are scheduled for the summer months, the house typically reports a loss in the third-quarter.) The loss amounts to $0.55 per share compared to $0.45 per share last year.

“With respect to the market conditions,” Sotheby’s president and CEO Tad Smith said in a conference call this morning, “there are uncertainties, including political noise here and abroad, as well as rising interest rates and slowing global growth.”

Recapping recent activity at Sotheby’s, Smith said that sales were up in the Asian market  12 percent by value, led by significant increases in buying in Taiwan, and touted the house’s just-completed sale of 975 lots from the collection of Pierre Bergé in Paris. It brought in $31.3 million—triple its high estimate—with every single lot finding a buyer, making it a rare “white glove” sale.

On a more somber note, Mainland Chinese buying declined 14 percent by value, and Smith said that Sotheby’s expects the 2019 market to be “a bit more subdued,” judging by sales trends this year.

Sotheby’s stock is off about 20 percent so far this year, and about 18 percent over the past 12 months. In the first two hours of trading today, the stock climbed more than 2 percent.

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