Why are auctioneers so proud of their ignorance? I just received a flyer from Christies – Chinese Art at South Kensington. Three of the items shown fetched more than TEN times the estimates! I know it’s difficult with Chinese things at the moment, but we’ve all seen items estimated at a few thousands, or even a few hundreds, go for hundreds of thousands. Is this something to boast about, as they invariably do in their next catalogue or hand-out, or newspaper article? Shouldn’t they rather be embarrassed by their ignorance and lack of research? Whilst auctioneers are deducting nearly half the gross without taking the risk of putting their money down, they leave it to buyers to tell them what something is worth.
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