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Question

“Do you know, by chance, about similar cases? Where should I address myself to (I live in Germany) , New York State Attorney? Consumer Affairs? Is there any special body in NY dealing with “misbehaviour” of auction houses?''

A paragraph from a letter sent to Lewis Baer on 17 March 2011. If you would like to receive a copy of the entire letter, please e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Answer

“Thank you for understanding why I despise both Sotheby’s and Christie’s, as they both created a classic duopoly that has no restraints. They deceive bidders with a secret reserve, and fix prices with a non-negotiable buyer’s premium along with a seller’s commission. Conflicts of interest and fraud are created at their whim.

It really comes as no surprise, and I think you have recognized where they put their biggest investment, the lawyers…
Remember, these two companies have withstood a class action of $½ billion. My friend, the only answer for them is government regulation, like a bank or insurance company. Nothing less will prevent a level playing field for all participants in a public auction.
As for advice, you have a battle that they have fought before and they usually will wear you down (like insurance companies). Perhaps Consumer Affairs in NYC might lend an ear. But fyi, Mayor Bloomberg’ significant other, Diana Taylor sits on Sotheby’s board…
Good luck and I hope you can persevere.”

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