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Let me begin by saying that I believe television shows about the auction business are generally good. The added exposure for the auction method of marketing is beneficial to all of those involved in the auction business. I don’t doubt shows about the auction business will drive more clients and customers to utilize auction marketing.

However, a particularly curious statement was made during a recent episode of Auction Kings filmed at Gallery 63 in Atlanta, Georgia.

As I understand it, a Venetian mirror arrived at the auction house. Paul Brown’s sister Susan Brown was called in to look it over, and she stated that it was “worth” $10,000 to $15,000. Then, she qualified the valuation with, “If the collector knows what they are buying.”

Later in the show, the mirror sold for $1,200.

Here’s my question. If the mirror was worth $10,000 to $15,000, why did it only sell for $1,200? If I remind myself of the valuation qualification, the “collectors must not have known what they were buying.” Or, maybe the appraiser didn’t know what she was appraising?

What is this mirror worth? We discussed what items are worth in a blog some time ago: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2009/12/14/what-is-it-worth/. It would appear that this mirror is only worth $1,200, and nowhere near $10,000 to $15,000.

Auctions today are marketed all over the world, via websites and the Internet. Most all astute collectors of anything have Internet access and keep abreast of items selling at auction in their areas of interest. I think it’s fair to assume most all those looking for a Venetian mirror of this type would have known of this one.

Further, if the mirror was worth even $5,000, why didn’t someone bid $1,300 and then resell it, realizing a profit of $3,700? Even if the mirror was worth $2,000, a bid of $1,300 would have realized a $700 profit for the buyer.

More likely, the mirror was worth $1,200.

I believe the portrayal of this purchase as a good deal is somewhat misleading. Just because someone thought it was worth much more doesn’t mean it is worth much more.

I applaud Auction Kings for shedding light on the auction business. However, I think it’s important to keep in mind that things are truly worth only (or as much as) what someone is willing to pay for them.

The precise issue is, in this case, a $1,200 mirror was mistakenly appraised for $10,000 – $15,000, and not that a $10,000 – $15,000 mirror was sold for $1,200.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.