Sotheby?s Shares Fall After ?The Scream? Sale

 @DavidZie
on May 03 2012 10:56 AM

Shares of auctioneer Sotheby's (NYSE: BID), which handled Wednesday's record-breaking sale of Edvard Munch's The Scream, dropped as much as 5.1 percent in Thursday trading.

At the close, Sotheby's was at $37.17, down $1.93 or 4.9 percent, trimming the New York fine arts auction house's market value to $2.52 billion. Earlier, shares had dropped as low as $37.10, down 5.1 percent.

The Scream sold for $119.9 million on Wednesday, the highest price for a work of art at auction. The seller was Peter Olsen, a Norwegian business executive. The buyer wasn't disclosed.

The auctioneer's commission -- $12.9 million  -- for the Munch alone, besides other works sold by Picasso, Dali and Miro that brought in a total of $330.6 million, might have sent the shares up.

The news, however, was dampened by an announcement that Sotheby's dissident shareholders won backing from ISS and Glass Lewis, institutional advisory services, for a shareholder proposal by the Teamsters Union to curb management pay. The annual meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday in New York.

The current practice of high compensation is just another scheme to put more money in the pockets of executives, said Ken Hall, Secretary-Treasurer of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Support by ISS and Glass Lewis could be crucial because 97 percent of Sotheby's shares are held by institutional investors.

Sotheby's is scheduled to report first-quarter results next Thursday. Analysts expect a loss of 16 cents a share on revenue of $94.2 million, reversing last year's profit of 3 cents on revenue of $119.58 million.

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