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date: 15 September 2019


  • Bénédicte Martin


French auction company, headquartered in one of the most prestigious hôtels particuliers at the intersection of the Champs Elysées and the Avenue Montaigne in Paris. Artcurial was created in 2001 and specializes in fine art sales, design, and fashion; it also has built a reputation for sales of multiples, including comics and photographs, as well as watches, jewellery, and collectable cars. The rise of France’s foremost domestically owned auction house should be perceived in the context of events unfolding in 1992, when Sotheby’s filed a complaint with the European Commission against France’s state monopoly of auctioneers clustered in the Hôtel Drouot, alleging impediments to free competition. In 1995 France was given formal notice by the Commission to reform the status of auctioneers. Five years later, on 10 July 2000, this led to the passage of law number 2000-642. The law’s main provision was the abolition of the state’s auction monopoly and the removal of the auctioneers’ status as ministerial officials. The law’s passage reshuffled the French art market. Until then, the distinction between auction houses and galleries was rigid and narrowly defined: art dealers were able to organize private sales only, while auctioneers could not engage in public sales of new goods and bulk merchandise....

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