Simon de Pury: Are auction guarantees changing the art market?

The guarantee is the result of overheated competition.
  • Transcript


Simon de Pury: I mean the guarantees are a result of the heated competition between the various auction companies. And every now and then you have a vendor or an institution that, when they sell, want to be absolutely certain. They want to protect their down side. And so the auction . . . the company gives a guarantee, no matter what happens on the day of the sale. So if it sells for less than the guaranteed amount, the auction house has to make up for the difference. So you protect the down side, but at the same time you get paid for the upside. So if you do far better than the guarantee, you take a much bigger part of the . . . of the upside. Now in a strong market like we’ve witnessed in the last three to five years, there have been more and more guarantees given out by the main auction houses. It is something that we also do; that we prepare to do in certain specific cases. But when the market is very strong, there is no need to get a guarantee. In fact, if you don’t have a guarantee and you do sell for a record price, you make more money like that than by taking a guarantee. So it’s are you a pessimist or an optimist. Do you want to protect your down side or your up side? Recorded on: 2/7/08