However, combined sales for the first nine months of its financial year (including auction and private sales as well as sales from its inventory) were up 20% on the previous year at $4.04bn (£3.1bn).
The third quarter is usually loss making due to the low number of auctions held during the summer months. Sotheby’s president and CEO Tad Smith said he is “cautiously optimistic about our prospects for November in New York and Geneva due to the strength, superb selection, attractive pricing, and freshness of our works”.
Mike Goss, chief financial officer, said: “The most important news from our third quarter is what it tells us about the environment as we head into the all-important fourth quarter – a quarter that last year produced 65% of our annual earnings, and, in stark contrast to the third quarter, is usually our most important.”
On the wider economic outlook, Smith said “there are uncertainties, including political noise here (in the US) and abroad, as well as rising interest rates and slowing global growth”.
He also outlined the company’s plans to further expand its digital business with improvements in areas such as digital infrastructure, data, content and blockchain-enabled innovations.