Sotheby's profit cratered last quarter, down 87% from the year before because for some reason people don't feel like spending millions of dollars on pretty pictures. Maybe a Cash For Classicism program would help?
According to the Wall Street Journal, "auction houses have been struggling to secure enough top material to entice bidders, as the economic downturn forces them to rely heavily on individuals selling art for personal reasons."
Auction sales plummeted 66%, but there's good news: Despite crashing revenue, Sotheby's was able to squeeze more out of its commissions, and booked its first profit in four consecutive quarters. That probably has something to do with the pay cuts and layoffs the company implemented late last year to reduce expenses. Shares rose 5% in after-hours trading after the news of the meager profits—which beat analysts' expectations—were announced, but they dropped back down to earth this morning and are currently down 1%.