My immediate reaction to the auction process as it now exists in the art and antiques industry is one of “where the action is”. This is all possible by Christie’s and Sotheby’s (and it all starts there) ability to manipulate the market mechanisms with a calculated corporate finesse.
My deep seeded disdain for the auction method now firmly established, finds its roots in the mid 1970’s when the “Great Satan”, the buyer’s premium, was instituted by them. The rules of the game were indelibly changed. If you need any proof, I would ask you if the industry’s dealers as a whole increased their sales by 36% over the last year. Both Sotheby’s and Christie’s just reported that robust increase.
Why such strong revenue increases on the auction side, and dealers struggle so mightily. Part of that are fashion and taste evolving, but except for the growth of the antiques show concept, the dealer method of selling hasn’t really changed. More or less presentation and scholarship by dealers hasn’t made much of a difference either, as the auctioneer has matched that too.
The auctioneers have seized the day with smart marketing tactics, corporate efficiencies, and oh by the way, business practices that in my mine are illegal, manipulative, deceptive, and full of conflict of interest.
I just said a mouth full, but now I have some cannon fader for more blogs, and hopefully your comments. FYI, the industry’s dealers and auctioneers are going in two directions.