Auction house Sotheby's reports $54.5m loss in last quarter

Natasha Clark
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Works By Picasso, Monet And Van Gogh Offered By Sotheby's As Part Their Impressionist and Modern Art Sale
The auction house said 93 per cent of the loss was due to changing art sales in London (Source: Getty)

Sotheby's reported a $54.5m (£43.5m) loss in the third quarter, compared to $17.9m (£14.4m) the same period a year ago.

The auction house said that they expected the poor results, and put down the huge losses to changes in the dates of the summer art sales.

The results

The company posted a net loss of $54.5m, or 99 cents a share in the third quarter.

Revenue fell to $91.5m from $137.9m but was ahead of the consensus figures.

Read more: Sotheby's co-chairman on the benefits of Brexit

The business also reported a $17.2m pretax charge relating to the acquisition in January of advisory business Art Agency, Partners.

The company's losses were partly offset by an increase in the company's commission margin from 15.3 per cent to 16.5 per cent.

Why it's interesting

The company said the poor results were partly down to the timing of the summer Contemporary Art sales in London, which were moved from quarter three last year, to quarter two this year. That accounted for around $197m of the $211m decline in net auction sales.

Read more: David Bowie's art collection goes under the hammer

Today they also announced the addition of Linus Cheung, a Hong Kong telecom executive, to their board.

What the company said:

"As we communicated previously, the third quarter results were not expected to be good," chief executive Tad Smith said in a statement. "Underneath our seasonally low level of sales, there were encouraging but tentative indicators that the market could be looking for a rallying point."

In short:

Dip in the market and calendar changes cause huge losses for this arthouse, but it's likely to not be reflected in the next quarter.

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