Monday, 10 August 2009

A Sign of the Times

Largest antiques wholesaler in the US closes

July saw the final sale to liquidate the enormous inventory that constituted Merritt’s Antiques.
The Douglassville business had been in operation since 1938 and was an established fixture in the Pennsylvania antiques marketplace and well known to European dealers as the largest antiques wholesaler in the United States.
Marty Merritt, 63, went on his first antiques-buying tour to Europe with his mother Mary in 1963, when he was 17. At the peak of trading he would visit the docks in Philadelphia several times a week to pick up containers and recalls passing through Checkpoint Charlie on early buying trips to East Germany.
The sagging economy, the age of the owners and the decline of antiques wholesaling led to the decision to liquidate a massive stock at auction. The Merritt Clock Shop, the largest clock parts business in the US, remains open.

Sotheby’s revenues halved

Second quarter results for Sotheby’s in 2009 show operating revenues down almost half to $167.3m on the first three months of the year thanks largely to the decline in auction totals.
Increased commission rates have helped soften the blow, as has a reduction in losses brought about by guarantees and a 30 per cent fall-off in costs. The result is a net profit of $12.2m, compared to $95.3m for the first quarter.
Looking at the whole of the first six months of 2009, operating revenues fell by just over a half on the second half of 2008 to $221.7m. Meanwhile, the $82.9m profit for the last six months of last year turned into a $22.3m loss from January to June 2009.
Sellers also appear to have adjusted to losing the cushion of guarantees and to curbing their expectations when it comes to reserves and sale prices.
It is hard to tell when the market will pick up again.

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