Sotheby’s Exec Hectors Media after Sales Drop

Auction house bristles at analysis of first half results.

Andrew Gully

Sotheby’s worldwide director of communications has threatened artnet News with “minimal cooperation” in all future media inquiries after the publication this week of an article titled “What Sotheby’s Isn’t Advertising About Its Private Sales.”

For his work on the article, artnet News senior investigative reporter Philip Boroff reviewed SEC filings and discovered private sales at the auction house had declined 48 percent in the first half of 2014. The decline in private sales was in stark contrast to the rosy picture the company had painted in a press release that cited a 41 percent increase in private sale transactions.

In an e-mail to artnet news on Tuesday, August 12, Andrew Gully expressed his displeasure at the story: “Going forward, the Press Office will not assist your reporters or editors beyond the minimum. I regret to say that, but given the unfairness of this reporting, you have left us with no choice.”

Sotheby’s, however, did not dispute the accuracy of the figures in the article or point to any errors of fact in the reporting.

Sotheby’s is a publicly traded company and the SEC filings reviewed for the artnet News article are in the public record. Boroff said: “After years of growth, it was the first such drop since 2009 and the lowest private sales for the first half of the year since 2010. That led me to pursue a story. I’m not aware of anyone questioning any of the facts we reported.”

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
  • Access the data behind the headlines with the artnet Price Database.