Last week, art auction powerhouse Sotheby's announced it would be furloughing close to 200 employees, 12% of their staff. Currently, those who are employed in the US and UK will receive a 20% pay cut until June 1, while executives have also agreed to take a 10% pay reduction. This news comes on the heels of Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips all announcing the postponement of their signature spring sales. While new dates have yet to be announced by all three auction houses, they are hopeful that their sales will take place in June.
Despite these recent layoffs, Sotheby’s has been able to successfully transition much of their business to their online sales according to Mary Bartow, Head of Sotheby’s Prints & Multiples department.
“Our dedicated online sales in 2020 alone have been especially robust, having raised $35+ million to-date and climbing daily–with recent sales spanning Modern and Contemporary African Art, 20th Century Middle Eastern Art, 20th Century Design, and Photographs. Collectors are still actively buying in the marketplace, and our proprietary online sales platform provides the best possible interface for clients to interact with works online and bid,” says Bartow.