The New York Times goes to the front page with a jumble of concerns about the art market and how it isn’t regulated. Robin Pogrebin and Kevin Flynn do a very good job of laying out the auction house belief that the UCC is enough regulation. They also points out that the laws requiring prices to be posted in galleries–and this making the works available to anyone willing to meet the price–remain un-enforced.
That said, there really is no center to the complaints save the issue of chandelier bidding.
Auctioneers say chandelier bidding (they prefer the term “consecutive bidding”) is necessary to keep the reserve secret and protect the seller. Without it, they say, bidding might end up starting at the reserve, since that is the minimum a seller will accept, and thus telegraph what it is.
You have to wonder, though. As silly as the chandelier debate is, why not start at the reserve? Too many sales these days stall out as dealers hope to see something bought in and then engage in an after-sale negotiation. That seems far more unfair than the signaling bids the auctioneer makes.
Lately, bidding has begin to take off when the person with the gavel says, ‘I can sell it’ and alerts buyers that it is now or never. Wouldn’t starting at the reserve unleash the same animals spirits?
As Art Values Rise, So Do Concerns About Market’s Oversight (New York Times)