I often deal with some of the most knowledgeable and professional auctioneers in the antique trade. I have ongoing relationships with auctioneers that spell out their terms and I feel I can rely on them.
I also have to deal with some of the biggest shysters who I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them.
It is often the porters, the people who usually run a saleroom, who go unmentioned. These are usually the people I rely on to get a feeling of a place.
Very often not the spiv in a suit who runs it.
The Internet has made it easy for commission merchants to fleece the public.
This combined with the BBC, advertising the salerooms, for cheap entertainment, giving them credibility, on a daily basis.
The public now seem to be of the mindset that an auction house is the source of the goods.
That may often be the case but I am often surprised how the public will often pay more from an auctioneer than the price you would sell it for in a shop….. Then give the commission men 20%.
Most people could not be aware that an auctioneer will get 40%, yes 40% of the hammer price.
That is 20% from the buyer and 20% from the vendor. Some charge more.
They then have the insult to not even wrapping the goods for you.
Most of them don’t even supply bubble wrap.
Many of them belong to trade associations that are no more than sewing circles. That collude to give an air of credibility.
If you look into many of them they are no more better than the fences that some of them represent.
The auctioneers can’t and won’t regulate themselves. It’s too good for them at the moment with the Internet connecting them worldwide.
Why would a saleroom wish to hide the fact that a work of art is damaged?
Yes I know we deal in a trade that has articles that have hundreds of years of wear and tear on them, but really why shouldn’t each lot have a condition report attached to it. Why do they hide behind a caveat emptor of buyer beware.
This is slight of hand in my opinion. Any other trade would be outlawed by society if they were treated the way some auctioneers treat the public.
Back street garages get a bad name, but what about back street auctioneers.
That said I have had particular problems with Bonham’s Chester, no wonder they are closing.
I have also been illegaly overcharged by Sotheby’s, a company most people foolishly believe are squeaky clean.
They colluded with other auction houses to price fix.
The head of major auction houses were even sentenced in the US. Jail was too good for them.
Now many of the Antique trade newspapers have set up sites that enable buyers to bid from the luxury of their own home, via computer.
They have one purpose in mind, to add further charges for themselves.
To add another layer of commission.
Do these web-based vehicles check the credibility of the company that they are representing on the web?
Do we now have middlemen representing middlemen?
Today I ask, “Should auctioneers be regulated”.
So the main person who would benefit would be the buyer.
A saleroom currently has no moral obligation to a buyer as they work for the vendor.
Good commerce achieves good results.
Surely the long-term style of a company keeps the public coming back.
I get contempt from auctioneers, threats of storage charges, hidden fees, terms and conditions hidden away with unworkable contracts that you would never expect in any industry.
Maybe its time to stop this.
In France commissaires priseurs are highly regarded, they have to take exams and be examined by the State for credentials.
Its about time this happened in the UK I think.
Should UK Auctioneers be regulated.
Armchairs by Renzo Zavanella
15 hours ago