Sotheby’s Big Losses Signal Potential Economic Hard Times Ahead for Art World

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After reading in our dentist’s office last week, the not very positive outlook for the art world as foretold in this really great piece about Lawrence Salander‘s fall from grace in Men’s Vogue, we weren’t surprised at all when we found, by way of Art Info, that Sotheby’s, the biggest of the big in all art dealings, is posting big loses and not faring very well at all in this current economic free fall. And it doesn’t seem like just a little hiccup, as Bloomberg reports that their stock has fallen by half in just a year, which is never a good sign for both the company and the art market as a whole. Here’s a bit:

Chief Executive Officer Bill Ruprecht said in a conference call with analysts that amid the U.S. credit crunch, the company reduced its own risk by cutting guarantees it offers to sellers.

To continue to compete against rival Christie’s International and win consignments, its profit on auction sales fell as it remitted to sellers part of the commissions it charges buyers, Chief Financial Officer William Sheridan said.

“We tempered some of our opportunities, which resulted in lower margins,” Ruprecht said in the conference call.

Commission revenues for every $100 in auction sales declined from $16.60 to $13.60, Sotheby’s said.