The New York Times looks at the corruption rife within Drouot, the Parisian association of auctioneers, and finds bidding rings, fake bids and casual theft:
But perhaps more surprising than the thefts themselves is the culture of casual corruption that Justice Ministry investigators uncovered when they conducted their own investigation after the scandal broke. Crooked practices, they found, were not only widespread but broadly condoned. Drouot regulars were not surprised. […]
“You have to know the dirty tricks, there are dirty tricks,” said Claude Pariset, 68, an antiques dealer from Champagne and a Drouot devotee for near 50 years. “It’s a racket,” he continued, waiting in the cafe Central for the evening truck to come for a newly acquired Louis XVI commode. “But that’s the job.”
December’s arrests came as little surprise, he said.
“The problem is that honesty is not rewarded in this business,” said Zareh Achdjian, 26, a third-generation antiques merchant and Drouot regular. Dressed improbably in Ugg boots, a gray pea coat and a dark brown Russian fur hat, Mr. Achdjian raced from room to room on a recent afternoon, laughing and chatting and bidding. He carried with him a framed series of yellowing pages covered in Sanskrit, for which he had just paid $400.
Chatter of Swindles and Scams at Auction House (New York Times)