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Auctioneers are typically agents for sellers. As such, the seller puts their property in the hands of the auctioneer and trusts the auctioneer will maximize proceeds.

Yet, what if the seller consigns something the auctioneer isn’t comfortable (or unwilling) to sell? Can that auctioneer simply discard that property? It would seem to us that unless the property was worthless (no market value,) the auctioneer would have to have his client’s knowledge and consent to discard anything.

In fact, it’s prudent for any personal property (and real property) auctioneer to have in his contract the exact terms under which he has the right to discard anything the seller consigns. Otherwise, it amounts to conversion.

Additionally, since this property belongs to the seller, the seller may want to repossess the consigned property from the auctioneer who refuses to sell — and keep it — or find another auctioneer who is willing to sell it.

Imagine an auctioneer empties out a house per the seller’s direction with an agreement to sell all “salable” items but doesn’t sell gold or diamonds because of environmental devastation, so he throws them away … a seller would be rightly dismayed.

You are free to hold political or social views, but your feelings don’t override your fiduciary duties. We noted the questionable practice of not selling bibles and flags (which countless stores and Internet sites do sell) here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/bibles-and-flags-at-auction/.

Auctioneers can (or cannot) agree to sell anything, but whatever your policy is, that policy has to be in concert with your seller, and memorialized in your contract with your client. If you’re discarding a seller’s property, this same knowledge and consent are required.

Finally, just because the auctioneer believes something is inappropriate to sell doesn’t mean he can simply throw it away — as his opinion is hardly the only opinion that matters here.

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 has served as faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.