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Sotheby’s Investment in Change Brings Mixed Earning Results


Employees of Sotheby’s, with “Ehrenbreitstein,” center, by J.M.W Turner, in the leadup to a sale at the auction house.

Niklas Halle’N/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Innovation comes at a price.

Because of expenses incurred by various investments in its growth, Sotheby’s has seen its net income decrease by 14 percent to $76.9 million over the last three months, compared with $89 million for the same period a year earlier, this auction house announced in its earnings report on Thursday.

At the same time, there was evidence that some of Sotheby’s changes have begun to pay off; revenues were up 5 percent for the quarter over the same period last year — to $314.9 million from $298.7 million — and 24 percent for the half.

And Sotheby’s consolidated sales — which include artworks sold at auction, from inventory and in private transactions — were up 2 percent for the second quarter and up 4 percent for the first half of 2017.

The auction house’s focus on its private sales showed particularly encouraging results — up 34 percent to $333.8 million for the first half of 2017 over the prior year and up 52 percent from the first half of 2016. Moreover, Sotheby’s had more private-sales transactions in the first half of 2017 than it did during that period the preceding four years.

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