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Outlining a developing spat between Chris Marinello of ARG (above left), and Julian Radcliffe (above right) of ALR, The Art Newspaper in a recent publication on their website, said the following:

“James Radcliffe, ALR’s director of recoveries, lawyer and near-namesake of the company’s founder, says that, while he has not seen ARG’s letter to the competition authority, ALR’s legal actions are “certainly not vexatious” and that there is “no systematic plan” to eliminate its competitor. He says the claim had to be issued to protect the interests of ALR’s stakeholders because Marinello “took confidential information from our business and we don’t know the full extent of it”.

Marinello says: “The ALR knows exactly the extent of information in my possession because it was obtained openly, transparently and with express permission pursuant to an agreement signed by Julian Radcliffe in 2012.”

Julian Radcliffe is ALR’s majority shareholder, although Sotheby’s also has a stake (around 11%), as does Christie’s (around 3%), and Marinello himself (10%)."

We asked former assistant United States Attorney Mark Gaffney for his view on this story.

"The article provides a very keen insight into the controversy between Radcliffe and Marinello and their firms. From the point of view of contemporary US antitrust enforcement, all of the overlapping ownership stakes between competitors would warrant an investigation, but I’m not sure US antitrust enforcers would require more than an assurance of equal and non-discriminatory access to information kept in these sorts of databases. Antitrust enforcement in the EU is more hawkish these days than in the US. While the UK has its own national antitrust or competition authority, I doubt they would be as hawkish as the EU authorities, particularly since both databases are UK-based, and the UK might be more lenient with dominant local-based businesses than dominant foreign-based businesses."

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