Saw Hundreds of Auctioneers in Action
Auctioneers in their majority serve the interests of the auction they work for. In some cases they are the owners of the auctions, in other cases they just do a great job or they serve the buyer because the cataloguers, auction experts failed to do their job well.
Is this a disservice or not?
The affable auctioneer, who appears on TV at times, was a good full of energy young auctioneer. He did his job fine and NO issues there. What was the issue then in 1987 and he sold me for nothing a good painting that saved my skin from possible litigation?
The auctioneers he worked for knew nothing about art and thus I was sold by this auction a painting worth 4000 for just 49.00 pounds and a few pennies. The man was happy to sell me the painting as that was his job but the auction house he worked for did a lousy job for the vendor.
It Happens Everywhere and the advice is: Visit Auctions;Get the Bargains!!
You would think that this happens at local auctions and that is NOT possible at bigger well known auctions with specialist sales. Well, that is not the case I am afraid, as the story that follows happened in Paris, just outside, at an auction selling important art.
Thus the painting by Nicolas Ghika was catalogued loosely and in a catalogue where paintings were at up to 1000 euros. I took the trouble to travel to Paris from London hoping that the painting was by Ghika and not a copy. The auctioneers, that is the auction house, described the painting nearly correctly as far as spelling was concerned but could not be bothered to research the painting and so offered it for sale for just 500 euros instead of perhaps 5000 or 10,000 euros.
I could not view the painting in flesh prior to the sale, I could not inspect the painting prior to the sale in the auction room. During the sale the lady auctioneer was in a harry to catch a train or have her dinner. When it came to the lot in question she asked for 500 euros as normal but NO answer from anywhere, even myself, as I was too busy inspecting the painting. Like a flash she asked for 250.00 euros and I mechanically and like a shot had my hand up and became the owner of a genuine Ghika.
The work of both auction house and auctioneer lady was lacking too much in all honesty. I was of course the beneficiary of about 13,000 pounds and that was a great sum of money for a quick trip to Paris. However, the poor owners were really out of pocket by bad work on behalf of the auction house. The auctioneer was at fault to sell me something for half the amount asked but…
The stories about auctioneers doing their job properly and others failing their clients are many and perhaps I will return to the issue at some point!
PS For more on auctions and auctioneers in my book Rags or Riches