Sotheby's reports fourth-quarter loss but still beat expectations

Message from Sotheby’s CEO

By Sotheby's
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An Update from Charles F. Stewart, CEO

Needless to say, the last few weeks have been very challenging as we grapple with the health, safety and market effects of the COVID-19 virus spread. Our top priority has been to ensure the safety of our employees and clients, and we are responding accordingly.

As a global business, we have been reacting to the virus since it first appeared in Asia at the beginning of the year. So far, we have been able to conduct auctions and offer the full range services to our clients, despite modifications as appropriate in certain instances.

While we cannot predict the future, we wanted to let you, our valued clients, know how we are addressing the epidemic and what you can expect from us in the near future.

To the best of our ability, we are going to continue doing what we do best, which is to connect people with the world’s greatest treasures.

In just the past week we have held a number of very successful sales – live auctions including Contemporary Curated in New York that totaled $32 million, a classic car sale by RM Sotheby’s at Amelia Island in Florida that brought $36 million, and Online sales of Watches and Contemporary Art that were 94% and 86% sold by lot, respectively. If and when we need to make adjustments to our sales schedules, you will hear from us.

In addition, we are taking all of the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of our employees, clients and any visitors to our galleries around the world. In each location, we are following the advice of local government officials and health authorities and where appropriate have colleagues working remotely, continuing to serve clients as they normally would.

Our galleries in New York and London are open this weekend and we have wonderful things to see.

In New York, our Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art sale is on view, alongside a fascinating selling exhibition, Crafting Geometry: Abstract Art from South and West Asia, and highlights from our other Asia Week sales that have been postponed until June.

In London, our popular Made in Britain sale is on view, together with works from the Estate of the Late Patrick Kelly, and our Prints & Multiples sale, which features a particularly inventive exhibition that shouldn’t be missed!

We are technologically equipped to operate our business in a variety of scenarios. Given the increasing trend of our clients engaging with us in digital formats to discover, explore and bid on art and objects, we feel confident we can continue to deliver exceptional service and sales to our clients around the world.

Please download the latest version of our app and visit our website to continue to experience the best that Sotheby’s has to offer from wherever you are in the world.

As an aside, it is interesting to note that Sotheby’s conducted its first auction on this week in 1744, 276 years ago. Over those nearly three centuries, we have successfully managed through all manner of circumstances – from world conflicts to market downturns – and we will manage in this instance as well.

Above all, I want you to know that you can continue to count on the global resources and stability of Sotheby’s. We stand ready to support you with our expertise, advice and highest level of service as you navigate the challenges the world currently faces.

Many thanks for your confidence and trust.

Charles F. Stewart
Chief Executive Officer

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