Question of Ethics

“There are things too personal to be disposed of, not unless one is in dire straits. If an auction house values its integrity, they should be more stringent in accepting consignments, otherwise they’ll suffer the risk of being labeled a dumping ground. Sketches, prints of all types, posters, studies, generally they cluster into a special category called ephemera or paraphernalia acceptably but separately categorized inside the same catalogue. There are cases where consignors needs to force sell, and cases where auction houses are coerced to sell, but there too are situations whereby collectors scale down or inherited properties disposed of because the heir is not keen about art. But even-though so, it is the duty of responsible auction houses to advise the courts in the case of force-sell or in other cases, the would-be consignor, the fair market value of the property consigned. Fair market value is determined by the art appraiser using approved formulas. Not by the whims and calls of the consignor nor the auction house. That said, malice becomes the glaring motive when an auction house especially an experienced one being aware of the fair market value, agrees to an undervalued consignment from an experienced consignor.

Going back to the first point, the consignment is more a case of ethics than anything else but it could be better handled by the auction house otherwise misunderstanding will occur.

As for the undervalued estimates of other properties under consignment, force selling, selling off an old investment and disposing inherited properties are all acceptable reasons, very frequent appearing as ‘No Reserve’ lots, but they need to be investigated on a case by case basis by the auction house concern. Galleries and living artists are frequent victims of such irresponsible estimates.

But if a collector insists that he can do whatever he wants since he owns the artwork, or the auction house insist that they can call whatever price they want despite the resources available for reference, then it is perfectly correct to imply that their motives are intended. For the fact that every action is a manifestation of one’s intention.”

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