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A 1,000-year-old Chinese bowl sold for $2,225,000 at Sotheby’s. This bowl had previously been purchased at a yard sale for $3. This is the absolute best type of auction headline.

Further, this headline is even better than just any headline where something sold at auction …. this is a legitimate stunning return on investment — nearly 750,000 times this seller’s initial investment, minus the cost of sale of course.

This is a classic case of seller equity, sense of urgency, and reasonable expectations — at minimum. This seller might not have been in any particular hurry but had 100% equity and almost assuredly low expectations.

We in the auction industry need all the headlines like this we can get. The more success auctioneers have “hitting it out of the park” the more people will like to join that auctioneer’s team as a seller. And, the more property is selling absolute (without reserve) the more bidders will want to play as well.

This bowl wasn’t sold absolute, but Sotheby’s is known for qualifying their sellers (and moderating expectations) and I know they far exceeded their seller’s — likely and their own — anticipated sale price. A model for any auctioneer to follow.

However, a disturbing practice has emerged in some auction markets — drastically underestimating the value of a subject item, so that when it sells for market price, the sale price far exceeds. With the Internet and the availability of market information … you aren’t fooling anyone.

In other words, when you claim you are “hitting it out of the park” make sure you are indeed hitting the ball over the fence, without moving the fence itself. Again, it’s not that difficult for the public to note where the fence is effectively (actually) located.

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, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.