Did you know that art sales in New York are estimated at $8 billion a year? Neither did I. Did you also know that scrutiny of this market is minimal and that fisrts bids are "typically fictional," used to jumpstart sales? An article in the Times, which has 75 comments, spells out this Wild West.
Many in the art world insist there is no need for further scrutiny of a market that prompts few consumer complaints and is vital to the New York economy. But other veterans of the business say there is mounting concern that monitoring has not kept pace with the increasing treatment of art as a commodity.
“The art world feels like the private equity market of the ’80s and the hedge funds of the ’90s,” James R. Hedges IV, a New York collector and financier, said. “It’s got practically no oversight or regulation.”
For two decades some New York State lawmakers have been trying to curb the practice known as “chandelier bidding,” a bit of art-market theater in which auctioneers begin a sale by pretending to spot bids in the room. In reality the auctioneers are often pointing at nothing more than the light fixtures.
“The time has come to give up this fiction that there are actual real bidders,” said David Nash, a gallery owner who spent 35 years as a top executive with Sotheby’s.
But nine bills submitted in Albany over the years to ban the practice failed. So today, in a city that seeks to regulate soda consumption, chandelier bidding remains 100 percent legal.Wild. More here.