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date: 21 October 2019


  • Antony Thorncroft
  • , revised by Darius A. Spieth


Public sale in which items are sold to the highest bidder. Auction houses, the organizers of such sales, act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers and, in return, typically charge one party or both parties a percentage of the price attained for their services. As a type of commercial transaction, auctions are not unique to the trade in art and antiques, but they play a major role in art-related business because they establish benchmark prices and because they make the price formation process transparent. Art auctions have a long and varied history, going back to Classical antiquity. The modern history of auctions, as a major commercial platform for art buying and selling, begins at the turn of the 18th century in Flanders and Holland, before taking root a few decades later in Paris and London. In Paris, for many years any type of auction could only be administered by state appointed ministerial officials, the ...

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