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Sotheby’s Sales Plunge 25% Despite Bored Millennials Bidding Online 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

The world's largest broker of fine and decorative art, jewelry, and collectibles, Sotheby's, announced Monday that total sales for the first seven months of the year were $2.5 billion, down 25% from the same period a year earlier when it sold $3.3 billion, reported artnet news

Sotheby's said $1.9 billion came from auction and online sales (down 30.4%). Private sales totaled $575 million (down 1.5%). 

The auction house said declining sales might have been worse if it wasn't for its online segment.

"The art and luxury markets have proven to be incredibly resilient, and demand for quality across categories is unabated," said Charles Stewart, Sotheby's CEO, in a statement.

Stewart said, "although driven by necessity, it's clear that our clients' interest and confidence in technology have fundamentally changed."

Sotheby's said bidders are getting younger, a trend where millennials are starting to become more dominant in online auctions. About a third of bidders over the period were under 40 years old. 

Ahead of lockdowns, Sotheby's was already building the infrastructure for virtual-only auctions. By the time lockdowns began, online sales had surged to $285 million, more than tripling its online total for all of 2019.

The virus pandemic's silver lining is that it helped supercharge global online art sales that were declining ahead of 2020. 

Bored millennials during lockdowns bid up Michael Jordan's Nike Air Jordan 1's to $560,000, expected to sell for around $150,000. 

With overall waning sales, Sotheby's furloughed 12% of its staff in April. Employees in the US and UK were not furloughed but took a 20% pay reduction through summer. 

"Like many businesses, Sotheby's is adjusting to the challenging circumstances resulting from COVID-19 and taking the necessary steps to protect our employees and the future of the company," the auction house said in April. 

As for rival Christies, well, it sold $1.4 billion worth of art for the first seven months, down 50% over the same period in 2019. 

Overall, auction houses are seeing slowing sales in a virus-induced recession, as millennial bidders now drive online sales. 


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