by Wolf Richter
“As far as I am concerned, this is a catastrophe.”
After a blistering five-year boom of near limitless possibilities, it is suddenly getting tough in another asset class – one that mere commoner millionaires are not invited to play in: the high-dollar art market.
Auction house Sotheby’s reported on Monday that revenues in the first quarter plunged 32% from a year ago. Agency commissions and fees, the largest subcategory, plummeted 37%. Expenses edged up. Hence a resounding operating loss of $32 million – a $50-million swing from its $18 million profit a year ago.