It Looks Easy but …
This is not to scare anybody. This not to make auctioneers look unprofessional. This just to make known to all art lovers, investors and collectors that events like the ones I am to describe below do happen and one has to be aware of them and be careful as nobody wants to be at the end of such events.
Telephone bidding, that is arranging with an auction to bid live on the phone is very common. Arrange to bid, fulfill the auction’s requirements and conditions and you are on. You will bid on the phone live! That will happen, if they call you of course, which is the issue here.
First piece of advice: If you can attend an auction please do. No third parties, no phones, no internet. Things can go diabolically wrong. If you miss a very important piece of Fine Art because phones did not work, there was power cut or whatever other reason, you will be very upset!
Bidding on the phone has been a practice of mine since the 1980s as I describe in my book Rags or Riches. No issues, No problems and always happy with the process.
This is 2015 and land lines, mobile phones and internet are much more advanced and widely used than thirty years ago. So what can go wrong in this advanced age of ours?
18th March 2015 Expecting to bid on two lots at an auction in Paris
The process of filling forms, jumping hoops and hurdles in order to bid on the phone sort of put me off as it took about two days. No, you have not provided this info. Go back and fill this form of the auction. Filled the form fully and the only thing they did not ask me was when I intended to go to the toilet next time. Yes, all those details are gathered and can be used. That includes my Bank details. Thus, how do I know that at some point in the future an event in my account won’t come from registering with this auction?
The question is legitimate, the question applies to any organisation we provide our details but.. We start from the point of TRUST!! An auction and a client trust each other in their dealings either when buying or when selling.
Thus the day to bid arrived and I am at home. Remeber I have the Exhibition The Parthenon running. I left the centre where the paintings are shown and came home waiting for that call. It is about 2:30 pm and I am hanging from the chair in front of my computer. When is the phone going to ring. It must be time to call me. The minutes tick away, I am writing on the computer about my struggles for FREEDOM and Art and I am looking and willing either phone to ring.
3.00pm 18th March
Given the fact that auctions in France are slower I still believe in the systems the French auctions have in place, in spite the events of the week before. Past three, past a quarter past three half past three and I give up. I am fuming. What in God’s name are the French auctioneers up to. What am I doing wrong and my custom is not appreciated.
I write a stinking email at 7:00 pm. I am furious with all the events and all the hustle to register in order to bid on the phone and as a result, I get no call. It was not only the fact that I could not bid, it was also the fact that I wasted about five hours to bid on something and I had not even been given the pleasure and opportunity to bid!
Went to bed fine as things like this happen. It happened the week before and perhaps I accept that the French auctioneers are not serious. Early morning and I am in front of my computer venting my fury. About 11.00am, I receive an email that I bought one of the lots I was interested in. I rubbed my eyes and tried to read the French text. It was clear. Invoice for 2500 euros for one of the lots I was interested, the Tsingos work below.
I read it several times. There was NO mistake. Invoice for 2500 euros for lot so and Tsingos! There was no time to waste. Immediately I responded saying I never bought anything as I received No call from them and certainly I left no instructions to bid on my behalf for any amount. This was a first in my thirty plus years dealings with auctions all over the planet.
I left it at that but I was not happy with it. First it was out of order whatever happened. Secondly, has anybody bid on my behalf and are they going to do it again? Thirdly, the auctioneers will start threatening me with calls and more emails to pay up.
No doubt on the 20th came another email insisting that I should pay for what I bid on. I did bid they claimed, that they spoke to me, that my English was poor, that they had difficulty in communicating with me but I did and bought the lot. This time round I was not just worried; I was furious too. My email went immediately back saying that they must have called the wrong person, that they are incapable of calling a client and after they mangled everything they insist on something that never happened.
No way it was me.
Quiet for a day and then came the message. So, you don’t want the Tsingos? That was different. Now, they were asking me whether I was interested to by the Tsingos at 2500 to which I said an emphatic NO!! My bid on the piece would have been 1200 euros plus their commissions. That was all, plus when an event like this happens you lose interest and do not want to be involved.
I do not believe I will hear from them again on this issue as they must have found out that somebody else bid on the painting.