Georgina Adam has news of a resolution of the long-standing problem of pilfering at the Parisian auction rooms of Druout:
Drouot, the central Paris saleroom, has sacked its famous cols rouges – porters who wear a distinctive black uniform with a red collar, hence the name – and appointed a new transport company. André Chenue, the long-established logistics company, will now be responsible for handling the 800,000 or more objects that, on average, pass through the saleroom every year. For the past 150 years, the cols rouges have had a monopoly on handling all the goods in Drouot; they were all recruited from the mountain département of Savoie, and their posts often passed from father to son. While their unorthodox practices were long tolerated by the 73 smaller Parisian auctioneers who operate in the Drouot building, the omertà was finally broken six months ago.
After an extensive police investigation, a dozen people, mainly porters, were arrested and some jailed, accused of organised theft and handling stolen goods. The Ministry of Justice, which oversees auctioneering in France, then ordered a report. While this has not yet been published, some elements were revealed in French newspaper Les Echos, and seem pretty damning. In it, the authors accuse Drouot of “minimalist governance”, “lack of a legal framework”, “irresponsible porters” and “archaic work practices”. After much hand-wringing, the Drouot board finally decided this week to sack the porters – including those who were not accused of wrongdoing – and to start again with Chenue. The auction house reopens next Tuesday, and the new porters will be at work, in uniform – but without the red collars.
Art Market: French Polish (Finanical Times)