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Auction revenue falls off at Sotheby’s

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Sotheby’s executives said some potential sellers were deterred last quarter by economic uncertainty in Europe.

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Sotheby’s shares fell after auction revenue declined in the fourth quarter amid European economic turmoil. The New York-based art and collectibles auctioneer said quarterly net income fell 26 percent from a year earlier to $71.5 million. It earned $1.04 a share, missing the $1.25 per share analysts’ forecast. Auction and related revenue fell 11 percent to $274.9 million. Chief financial officer William Sheridan said uncertainty stirred by the European economy deterred some potential sellers. “If you have a Picasso and you’re concerned with what’s going on in Europe, you may just say, ‘Let me wait 12 months until I see some stability there,’ ’’ he said. For 2011 overall, profit was $171.4 million, Sotheby’s best year since 2007.

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