Sotheby’s Returns to Profitability, But Not Without Cost

A sign that the high-end auction world is coming back up for some air after being stuck with every other company well below the surface due to the global financial meltdown? Or just some last minute shaving to appear much more profitable? Reports say that Sotheby’s has returned to profitability, jumping from big losses to big gains in just one year, and that its head, William Ruprecht, has returned to his former salary, having taken a voluntary cut last summer. The stock market took a liking to the news and gave a nice healthy bump to their listing, but before you start celebrating that the recession has left the land of art and auctions, it’s probably important to know that Sotheby’s also “eliminated about one-fifth of its staff” as well as removing “most money-losing guarantees to sellers.” So that bump certainly came at a price and we’d say it’s still probably a bit premature to start breaking out the champagne just yet (unless you’re willing to share it with us and it’s just drinking for drinking’s sake).

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