Summary of Some Auction House "Tricks"

As we all know, auction is the most important way of art trading. Many well-known artworks are sold through major art auction hoouses. For example, the well-known chicken cup was acquired by Liu Yiqian at the Sotheby's Hong Kong spring auction on April 8, 2014. Another example is the Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. His works are constantly being traded through various auction houses, and prices are constantly rising, thus establishing the status of his generation of “painting gods”.

Regarding the tricks of the auction house, I believe there have been a lot of complaints on the Internet. Below, I will briefly clarify some of the "tricks" from the local Australian auction houses from my own experience.


In Australia, there are many auction houses. In each state, there is always a "flagship" auction house that is familiar with the local market and has a long-term business. Usually there are no less than 10 auctions per week, with an average of one per day which keeps the continuation of Australia's local collection market. Most of these local auction houses have a very restrict business rule and stick to the ethical business behaviour. However, just like there is always a black sheep in the group, in the industry, there are some “tricky” auction houses. Through some seemingly normal marketing methods, they can often achieve impressive auction results and are sought after by many people. Next, I will explain the tricks so that the collectors can be more vigilant.


  1. Use other people's venues to make their own sales.

Generally speaking, due to the high cost of labor and leasing fees, many Australian auction houses usually have their own venues, and each preview and auction will be carried out on their own venues. However, some auction houses work with the real estate agents to find venues in the upcoming properties in some wealthy areas. According to them, they are just in the name of helping real estate sellers to sell their discarded furniture. But in the actual fact, they just want to take advantage of people’s admiration on the rich people and get a bargain from the wealthy people’s collection to make their own sales. Usually they can obtain better auction results than other ordinary auctions.


  1. Exaggerate the description and overestimate the price.

Under normal circumstances, auction houses usually value the lot based on the value on the actual market. But, some auction companies will deliberately raise the estimate and exaggerate the description in the auction catalog, using words such as "museum quality" to confuse collectors, but they do not mention the age of the lot in the catalog. Therefore, I would like to remind collectors to distinguish the difference between antiques and handicrafts.



  1. Sell their own inventory in the name of auction.

This situation has also appeared in the other overseas auction houses. It is that some auction houses use their own resources to collect pieces from various places, and then sell them in the form of auctions. The two points mentioned above in this article are also the main way they use when they try to sell their own goods.


Of course, from a business perspective, these practices of auction houses are understandable. These are just some commercial marketing methods. Moreover, if you consider the buyer's commission to be paid in the end, sometimes it is better to buy it directly from an antique shop. On the one hand, there are professionals to check for you, and on the other hand, you can bargain and bargain, unlike auction houses. Sometimes, the antique shop will do some restoration work for you. And these restoration works are additional benefits offered to the clients by the antique shop. So, back to the collection itself, I still like to remind everyone to pay attention when buying at the auctioning. Don't get too excited by those ways and it will be more safe.

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