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What is a “priceless” auction item? Could an auctioneer exclaim, “This item is priceless?” What are the implications of such, if any? For one, at benefit auctions with tax deductibility issues, the value of the subject item would need to be disclosed: https://howauctionswork.com/2022/03/28/how-much-is-priceless-worth/

We wrote about related benefit auction issues here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/tax-issues-at-a-benefit-auction/. For auctioneers and organizations conducting benefit auctions, there are many laws to keep in mind, and one or both should seek out legal counsel as well as tax counsel to affirm all proper policies, forms and disclosures are in place.

Otherwise, for an auctioneer to proclaim, “This item is priceless” would likely be considered puffing and/or sales talk, and almost assuredly not a warranty nor guarantee: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/puffing-versus-misrepresentation-at-auction/. Yet, auctioneers must be careful to not cross over from puffing to misrepresentation.

“Priceless” has more than one definition. For example, it could mean “unique, interesting, amusing,” “having a value in excess of market value,” “costly,” or “difficult to value/price.” I distinctly remember my great grandmother saying my behavior as a child was sometimes “priceless.”

In a sole auction context, it’s hard to imagine priceless having a serious meaning, as auctions result in the property being sold (if sold at all) to the highest bidder for a particular price. Could something at auction sell for a “priceless” amount? How would someone pay a “priceless” invoice?

Lastly, does what something sells for in an auction result in “market value?” As we discussed prior so long as the transaction was “not a forced sale and arms-length” it is likely a reflection of market value: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/does-an-auction-price-equal-market-value/.

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, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, 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 and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.