The New York Times published an article on May 3, 2022, titled “New York City Eliminates the Rules That Govern Art and Other Auctions.“ While this is true, in a sense, there are still laws and rules which govern auctioneers in New York City, as well as the entire state of New York.
In fact, there are a myriad of laws and rules which govern all auctioneers in the United States, regardless if you have an occupational license or not: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2018/07/11/no-auctioneer-licensing-so-anything-goes/.
Of course, my phone rang, as we have provided expert witness assistance to many attorneys in New York including New York City. What difference will this elimination of laws and rules make? It’s doubtful this law change would have had any impact on any of our prior cases nor have any effect on any current ones.
Thomas C. Danziger, an art market lawyer who advises collectors on consignments to auctions said:
With no regulations, there are no more rules of the road
There are plenty of “rules of the road” which still apply in the art [auction] market. Although one could certainly argue “With no regulations …”
The only laws that New York City eliminated basically concerned licensing, auction houses bidding past the seller’s reserve through chandelier bidding, publishing estimates below the reserve amounts, and disclosure of any financial interest in subject lots.
From my perspective, these above [former] laws/rules seem better to leave in place. Licensing is generally good (but not always,) and auctioneers shouldn’t be bidding past the reserve (fictitious bidding) nor publishing estimates below the reserve, and there’s not really anything wrong with disclosing any financial interests in lots sold.
I’m hopeful these auction houses and other auctioneers in New York City continue to follow these laws/rules regardless, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea if every auction house and auctioneer in the United States followed these as well. Maybe an important lesson here — just because there isn’t a law saying you “have to do something” or “can’t do something” you can still behave well.
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.