Sotheby’s Posts 7% Gain in 2011, With Munch on the Way


Recession? What recession? The past year saw Sotheby’s achieve some of the best sales results in its 268-year history, coming in just behind 2007.

Revenues increased by 7% ($57.5 million) over the previous year, as noted in a year-end report the auction house released yesterday afternoon. Net income for the year clocked in at $171.4 million.

Among the year’s highlights were Asia consolidated sales (which includes auction sales, private sales and dealer revenues) reaching the $1 billion dollar mark for the first time. “We have now reached the point where the three geographic engines driving our auction business—the Americas, Europe, and Asia—are contributing to our success in roughly equal proportions,” said Bill Ruprecht, president and CEO, in a press release.

Grabbing headlines earlier this month was the auction house’s announcement that the last version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream in private hands will go on the block on May 2 and may bring as much as $80 million. Sotheby’s total sales for the year were $5.8 billion, narrowly topping rival house Christie’s, which reported income of $5.7 billion.

Conversely, Sotheby’s had a lousy fourth quarter, with net income year-over-year falling 26 percent. Stock prices fell 12 percent on the news, according to Bloomberg.

Continuing to give Sotheby’s a black eye is the ongoing contract dispute with its 43 unionized art handlers, which has led to various art world protests.