Sotheby’s reports year-to-date sales of $2.5 billion

Sotheby’s online auctions exceeded $285 million, already more than three times the company’s full-year results in 2019. Sotheby’s image

NEW YORK – Sotheby’s reports year-to-date sales total in 2020 of $2.5 billion and a more than 30 percent increase in new bidders & buyers across all sales.

“We are proud to conclude the first seven months of the year with $2.5 billion in sales, and I would like to thank our clients and employees for their extraordinary support during the pandemic,” said Charles Stewart, Sotheby’s CEO. “Our success was driven by strong customer demand for art and luxury, Sotheby’s unique specialist expertise and trusted client relationships around the world, and our remarkable adaptations and innovations to the current environment. The company is in a strong financial position as we head into the second half of the year and, based on the demand we witnessed in New York, Hong Kong and London over the past month, it promises to be an exciting fall.

“The art and luxury markets have proven to be incredibly resilient and demand for quality across categories is unabated. The power of Asia, combined with the sophistication of established collectors and the appetite of new clients, was central to our success over the past seven months, and particularly since March. And although driven by necessity, it’s clear that our clients’ interest and confidence in technology has fundamentally changed.”

In total, Sotheby’s has conducted 250+ live and online sales to-date in 2020 (Jan. 1–July 31), which were a strong 80 percent sold overall.

More than 30 percent of all bidders and buyers in the period had never transacted with Sotheby’s before, and more than 30 percent of all bidders and buyers are under 40.

“We saw competition in our auctions from 100+ countries, with nearly 20 percent of new bidders and buyers, in particular, coming from across Asia,” noted Stewart.

Online buying in Sotheby’s live auctions included two benchmark prices achieved in the same evening: first with Joan Mitchell’s Garden Party, sold for $7.9 million, and later with Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled (Head), sold for $15.2 million.

Stewart continued: “Our team successfully took the circumstances of the past several months and turned them into opportunities, which advanced numerous initiatives that will likely change our business forever. Innovation is underway in every corner of the company: from creative sale formats that maximize flexibility for our clients, to the deployment of new digital tools that allow more people to engage with us than ever, to the launch of multiple buy-now initiatives.”

This June marked the reintroduction of live auctions to our Sotheby’s salerooms. In just two months, auctions in New York, Hong Kong, London, Paris and Geneva achieved a remarkable $1.2 billion, led by the highest price for any work at auction this year (Francis Bacon’s Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus, sold for $84.6 million in New York), the highest price for any work at sold at auction in Asia this year (Sanyu’s Quatre nus, sold for $33.3 million in Hong Kong), and the highest price for any work at auction across Europe – both for the year (David Hockney’s The Splash, sold for $29.8 million in February), and for the summer season (Joan Miró’s Peinture (Femme au chapeau rouge), sold for $28.7 million in London this week).