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  • Writer's pictureVan Weyenbergh Fine Art

Auctions: more than 80 % collapse during containment.

The auction houses closed their doors and had to fall back, due to confinement, to online or closed-door operations, showing a cumulative drop in sales of more than 80%. Still, demand remains strong and the sector dynamic, said Monday, the regulator of the sector.

This Monday, exhibitions, and sales resumed at the Drouot auction house, a place symbolic of the auction world in France.

In a study, the Voluntary Sales Council (CVV) identified the 175 auctions organized during confinement, under rigorous conditions: no public exhibition before the sale, no public, withdrawal of lots postponed after deconfinement, payment remotely ...

For the majority (56%), these sales were "live auctions" (also called "live behind closed doors"): an auctioneer held a session where he put the lots up for auction one after the other, filmed by a collaborator, and collectors bid on the Internet. For the other part (44%), they were purely online, sales which can take place over a week or more. Several houses did not practice either.

Overall, after a widespread virtual shutdown until March 28, sales have gradually resumed in some houses. But no auction (except charity sale) has ever reached 1 million euros.

"Faced with this period of containment, it is a market that has continued to fight well. As we have seen with the Tajan, Osenat, Millon, or Ader sales, the buyers have been there. Collapsed, it's just that there were very few sales," Ariane Chausson, director of information at the Voluntary Sales Council, told AFP.

Public auctions had increased by 12% in France in 2019, with the total amount awarded reaching 3.37 billion euros. All sectors had progressed, including electronic sales (+ 7%).

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