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Every auctioneer in the United States — and anywhere else for that matter — could learn something from Christie’s. Here we share with you some of their disclosures which are quite frankly difficult to find otherwise in the auction industry.

Christie’s “financial information” page discloses buyer’s premiums, financial interests, ownership, etc. This is notable because most auctioneers wouldn’t even think to disclose (other than buyer’s premiums) if they owned the item or if some back-room guarantee is being provided.

For instance, lots at Christie’s are noted with symbols to give information such as this:

    ° – Christie’s has direct financial interest in the lot

    ∆ – Owned by Christie’s or another Christie’s Group company in whole or part

    ♦ – Christie’s has a direct financial interest in the lot and has funded all or part of our interest with the help of someone else

    λ – Artist’s Resale Right

    • – Lot offered without reserve which will be sold to the highest bidder regardless of the pre-sale estimate in the catalogue

The complete page (as of February 1, 2019) of their financial information can be found here: https://www.christies.com/buying-services/buying-guide/financial-information/.

What lesson could auctioneers learn from Christie’s? For one, buyer’s are willing to pay notable buyer’s premiums when they feel they are receiving like-value in return. Secondly, more disclosure leads buyers to have more confidence in Christie’s.

We haven’t always found Christie’s behavior to be justifiable, as we noted here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/christies-manifestly-unreasonable-terms-and-conditions/. Yet, they seem intent on good communication.

Nonetheless, is more disclosure coming to commerce generally? To some degree — yes — but retail otherwise is usually sans buyer’s premiums. Yet, there does seem to be a correlation between service fees and buyer expectations.

Finally, are buyer’s premiums going away any time soon? I doubt it. However, are buyers sensitive to disclosure, terms, conditions and fees as well as time necessary to complete the transaction? They are especially so.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.