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    Sotheby's Says First-Half Auctions Climbed 41% to $2.76 Billion

    Date: 2 Jul 2007 | | Views: 3924

    Source: Bloomberg (www.bloomberg.com), by Linda Sandler

    Sotheby's, the world's No. 2 auction house, sold 41 percent more art in the first half as buyers from the U.S., Russia and Asia flocked to London, according to preliminary figures on Sotheby's Web site.

    Sotheby's first-half art auctions amounted to $2.76 billion, compared with $1.96 billion a year earlier, according to the Web site. Two big sales seasons in February and June in London, the second-largest market, put the U.K. total at $1.05 billion, compared with $1.35 billion in the U.S.

    Sotheby's shares often rise before key auctions, then slip as investors await news of consignments for the next season. On June 22, analyst Kristine Koerber of San Francisco's JMP Securities raised her estimates for Sotheby's second-quarter profit to $1.48 a share, from $1.34 a share, also increasing her estimate for the year, saying the "art cycle'' was still strong.

    The stock closed yesterday at $46.59, up 17 cents in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. A report in Forbes magazine said profit for the second quarter would be stronger than expected. Sotheby's is set to report earnings in early August.

    Sotheby's and Christie's International, the biggest auction house, just wrapped up their June sales of impressionist to contemporary art with a combined total of $883.1 million, 51 percent more than a year ago. Their biggest sales of the year usually are in November in New York, where second-half growth tends to be faster than in London.

    For all of 2006, Sotheby's and Christie's had auctions totaling about $8.4 billion, up 36 percent from the previous year. Christie's, owned by the French billionaire Francois Pinault, took $4.7 billion of the combined total as it sold the lion's share of expensive paintings by Gustav Klimt and other artists.

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