Friday, April 19, 2013
I watched every lot as it was offered and as I have already pointed out there were unique aspects in both Sothebys presentation and the owner's implied participation. Strategically the catalog was not written with lots presented geographically. Almost all the top lots were included in session two which was the Friday night that followed literally 50 minutes after the afternoon session ended. Again based on the historical track record of what works in auction catalogs, this didn't even make sense. And in retrospect the high percentage of bought in lots might argue that something didn't work. Nobody is going to accuse anyone of incompetence or bad judgment. So be assured we won't know with
certainty what happened. But based on my experience of looking at these sales for almost forty years, let me speculate. And in this case speculation is good because if I'm right there is something to learn from what happened. Admittedly I'm guessing but I believe Sothebys didn't set the estimates or reserves. I am also betting that Jean Paul Barbier negotiated a no sellers commission with all expenses paid by Sothebys. Finally I don't believe Sothebys designed that catalog without significant input from the owner.
Sothebys has a May tribal art sale in New York which includes Pre-Columbian. On April 24th at 2:30 PM Binoche- Giquello auction house based in Paris will hold another Pre-Columbian sale which is also being attacked. See link at http://www.binocheetgiquello.com/ Again protests have been lodged
but I doubt seriously if this sale will be stopped.
The Newsletter will have special issue in late May devoted to the auction market and what is happening internationally in tribal art.