The media continues to cover itself with glory while reporting on the Bouvier case. Here The Economist muddles most of its facts after discussing the particulars of the case in Monaco:
Whatever the facts of the present case, critics say it is time a harsher light was shone on the art world. Oversight has remained scant, even as art has flourished as an asset class. Stories abound of collusion among bidders to support prices at auction, and “chandelier bidding”, in which auctioneers call out phoney bids, while gazing vaguely over bidders’ heads. Auction houses cleaned up their act after a price-fixing scandal in the 1990s but some still engage in questionable practices, such as “irrevocable” bids, whereby third parties guarantee a sale price and take a cut if it is exceeded, but do not have to disclose if they themselves bid the price up.
The last bit will particularly upset Sotheby’s (which is uses “irrevocable bids”) but makes a particular point of the fact that it does not allow third party guarantors to participate in the upside (which Christie’s does.)
The art market: Brush with the law (The Economist)