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  • PHILLIPS REMAKING AUCTION MARKET: Now even Sotheby's board members are selling their art at No. 3 auction house Phillips. Observers say that Phillips is "guaranteeing collectors so much money that neither Sotheby's nor Christie's can come near the offers. As a consequence, the high-end auction world — a cozy gentleman's club until the federal investigation into price-fixing and collusion shattered its decorum — is becoming an ever more free-wheeling, up-for-grabs marketplace, which makes officials at both houses worry that tight profit margins could evaporate completely." The New York Times 03/07/01
  • FALLOUT FOR SOTHEBY'S/CHRISTIE'S: Fallout from Sotheby's and Christie's auction house legal woes is mounting. Sotheby's website has been a money sinkhole, there're those big settlements to pay, and it looks like customers are turning to other sellers. And look, there's No. 3 auction house Phillips in the passing lane... The Economist 03/03/01

Friday January 19, 2001

  • FORMER PRES GOES NON-PROFIT: The former Sotheby's president who resigned amidst collusion investigations of the company, has forfeited her stock options. "At the time she resigned, Ms. Brooks volunteered to give back all but a few of her options. The company then asked for the return of all the options as partial payment for damages stemming from her role in a price-fixing scheme that has cost the auction house tens of millions of dollars in fines and lawsuit settlements. It also ensures that she will not profit from any increase in Sotheby's stock." New York Times 01/19/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Wednesday December 6, 2000

  • GOING AFTER THE GUY AT THE TOP: The US government is aggressively going after Bernard Taubman, formerly chairman of Sotheby's, trying to tie him to the price-fixing scandal with Christie's. The government is attempting "to build its case against Mr. Taubman with the testimony of assistants who could confirm meetings between top executives from each company." New York Times 12/06/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Tuesday November 28

  • ATTENTION COUPON CLIPPERS: Sotheby's and Christie's have asked a judge to allow them to pay $100 million of the $512 million settlement against them with certificates good for buying art in the future. "Sellers, they said, could have up to five years to use their coupons and could transfer them through a jointly appointed certificate administrator, which they said would create a secondary market." The New York Times 11/28/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Tuesday November 21

  • ATTORNEYS WHO WIN: The attorneys representing the 100,000 plaintiffs who sued Sotheby's and Christie's for price fixing stand to make $27 million for their work after negotiating a $512 million settlement. New York Times 11/20/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Friday November 17

  • THE INFLATING CONTEMPORARY MARKET: A couple of years ago, when Christie's began selling work by young contemporary artists, some in the art world complained the move would falsely inflate the value of such work. Bidding at the contemporary auction Thursday night was vigorous and exceeded the high estimate for the session. New York Times 11/17/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Thursday November 16

  • THE BOOM GOES ON: Six records were set at Christie’s first sale of post-war art Wednesday night, which brought in a total of $59.7 million. The buyers? "They're selective, but they'll spend big, big money." New York Times 11/16/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Wednesday Noevmeber 15

  • 100,000 PLAINTIFFS GET A VOICE: A federal judge in Manhattan ruled yesterday that a proposed $512 million settlement of the antitrust lawsuit against Sotheby's and Christie's could be submitted for consideration to the more than 100,000 buyers and sellers affected by the companies alleged collusion and price-fixing. New York Times 11/15/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE FALL AUCTION BOOM CONTINUES: Eleven records were set at Sotheby's New York sale of contemporary art this week. "On offer was consistently high-quality art from all periods - everything from Abstract Expressionist and Pop art to some 1990's artists new to the auction rooms. Of the 62 lots, only 12 failed to sell. The sale totaled $43.1 million." New York Times 11/15/00 (one-time registrationrequired for entry)
  • LOVE OF THE NEW: Phillip’s also saw sales beyond its high-bid estimates, taking in $10.6 million and setting records for several artists’ work including Damien Hirst. Warhol, DeKooning, and Basquiat were also top sellers. CNN (Reuters) 11/14/00

Tuesday November 14

  • WHO GETS WHAT IN AUCTION SUIT: The some 100,000 plaintiffs in the class action suits against Sotheby's and Christie's reveal how they propose to split the $512 million settlement with the companies. New York Times 11/14/00 (one-time registrationrequired for entry)

Wednesday November 1

  • BUYER’S REVENGE: In the midst of the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation, a class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Sotheby’s and Christie’s customers alleging price-fixing and collusion among both companies’ top executives. New York Times 11/01/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • TRIANGLE COMPETITION: As the major auction houses gear up for their big fall sales over the next two weeks, a third player is giving them a run for their money. "The historical tug-of-war between Sotheby's and Christie's has turned into an expensive three-way fight. Since LVMH bought Phillips, the London-based auction house a year ago, it has been going after property at any cost, dipping into LVMH's deep pockets to become a major player." New York Times 11/01/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • WELCOME BACK, DEALERS: Once the center of the art auction world, France has handled only 5% of international art sales in recent decades due to an antiquated, protectionist system that has prohibited foreign auction houses from selling in Paris. But now imminent reforms will soon end French auctioneers’ monopoly and open the door to a more vibrant art market. "Many new foreign dealers have already opened branches in Paris in recent months and are eagerly awaiting the starting gun." The Age (Melbourne) (DPA) 11/01/00

Sunday October 8

  • HOW THE FEDS GOT CHRISTIE'S/SOTHEBY'S: Last December Christie's London was forcing out Christopher M. Davidge, its chief executive. "When Christie's demanded all of his business records, Mr. Davidge turned the tables and produced a bonanza. He dug out private files of his handwritten notes to Christie's one-time chairman, Sir Anthony Tennant, and gave them to his lawyer, who, by late December, had dumped them in the laps of the company's criminal lawyers in New York. The impact still reverberates through the $4 billion-a-year auction world, which will never be the same. New York Times 10/08/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday October 6

  • CHRISTIE'S/SOTHEBY'S DEAL PUT ON HOLD: A judge puts a hold on the $512 million settlement reached late last month by the boards of both Christie's and Sotheby's, saying that not all the plaintiffs have had a chance to sign off on the agreement. CNN 10/05/00
  • SOTHEBY'S/FORMER CEO PLEAD GUILTY: The venerable Sotheby's auction house and its former chief executive pleaded guilty Thursday to fixing commission prices and fees with rival Christie's, admitting they had ripped off clients for years. Former CEO Diana D. Brooks, the first woman to head a major auction house and one of the most powerful figures in the art world over the last decade, faces up to three years in federal prison when she is sentenced Jan. 5." Dallas Morning News (AP) 10/06/00

Thursday October 5

  • CONFESSING TO THE CRIME: After a three-year antitrust investigation, Sotheby's former president and CEO Diana D. Brooks has agreed to plead guilty to felony counts of conspiring with Christie's to violate antitrust laws. Sotheby's has also agreed to plead guilty to antitrust violations and pay a fine of $45 million - on top of the multimillion-dollar settlement two weeks ago in the investigation's civil case. New York Times 10/05/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Tuesday September 26

  • SETTLEMENT AIDS SOTHEBY'S: "Shares of Sotheby's Holdings rose more than 15 percent yesterday after the board of the beleaguered auction house agreed to pay $256 million to settle a class-action claim that it colluded with Christie's to fix commissions charged to buyers and sellers." New York Times 09/26/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Monday September 25

  • LONDON GOES LATE: "In a collective outbreak of sanity, the two major auction houses have decided to move the evening sales of Impressionist, modern and contemporary art, held in London in December, to late January and early February. This should bring in more business for the London salerooms after years of drift across the Atlantic to New York." The Telegraph (London) 09/25/00

Sunday September 24

  • PRICE-FIXING SETTLEMENT: Sotheby's and Christie's have tentatively agreed to "pay $512 million to settle claims that the world's most powerful auction houses cheated buyers and sellers in a price-fixing scheme that dates back to 1992." New York Times 09/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday August 4

  • SCANDAL EFFECT: Sotheby's earnings decline 5 percent, though revenue was up in the second quarter. "Sotheby's shares have declined by more than a third this year as Internet spending and legal fees from the price-fixing investigation and related lawsuits cut into earnings." New York Times 08/03/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Monday July 17

  • THE COLLUSION CASE: The murkiness of L'affaire Christie's/Sotheby's begins to lift. "In its formal response to the class action complaint, a copy of which has been obtained by The Daily Telegraph, Christie's denies most of the allegations or says that they are matters of law. But it admits that Sir Anthony Tennant and Christopher Davidge, formerly chairman and chief executive of Christie's respectively, did have communications with Alfred Taubman and Dede Brooks, their opposite numbers at Sotheby's." The Telegraph 07/17/00

Monday June 12

  • PROVING THE FIX: Prosecutors are racing to ready their case of collusion against Christie's and Sotheby's. "If the Justice Department is successful in establishing that the price-fixing dates back nine years, civil awards could cripple both companies. One lawyer suing the auction houses said that the damages could run well into the hundreds of millions of dollars, which, when tripled under provisions in such cases, could mean combined losses to Sotheby's and Christie's of close to $1.5 billion." New York Times 06/12/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Sunday May 21

  • ARTY PARTY: In high-stakes auctions, you've got to schmooze the potential bidders these days. "Sotheby's alone held 16 promotional events between May 4 and May 16, including a populist Sunday brunch and an intimate boardroom dinner to cultivate major donors to the Dia Center for the Arts." New York Times 05/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday May 19

  • I THINK I CAN: No. 3 auctioneer Phillips comes back with another auction - and has better luck selling it after last week's disaster. New York Times 05/19/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Wednesday May 17

  • PICKING UP THE PIECES: At one time the top spot running Sotheby's would have been considered a real dream job. But with scandals and investigations and uncertainties, William Ruprecht confesses that he "took a very deep breath and had a moment of hesitation" before accepting the assignment last February. After last week's successful spring auctions, it appears some of the storm has passed. Financial Times 05/16/00

Monday May 15

  • LONG TERM STRATEGY: Even though last week's auction in New York by Phillips - pushing hard to gain a toehold on Sotheby's and Christie's - was little short of a disaster and cost the company a great deal of money, Phillips is in to stay. "It would be a mistake to believe that it can be done quickly. It will take three to five years to reposition ourselves and grow from there. This is by no means a quick fix." The Telegraph (London) 05/15/00

Tuesday May 9

  • SPRING SHOPPING: Christie’s and Sotheby’s held their first auctions since the federal antitrust investigation, and dealers and collectors packed the room to see what effect the recent legal crisis would have on sales. Monet and Caillebotte brought in top bids, but “many works sold for far less than their low estimates.” New York Times 05/09/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 

    • A WELL-HEELED SHRUG: The Justice Department and the art world may care deeply about the auction houses’ commission-fixing allegations, but the investigation “elicited a well-heeled shrug from many prospective bidders last night at Christie's auction of Impressionist and post-Impressionist art.” New York Times 05/09/00 (one-time registration required for entry)  

Monday May 8

  • MAKING A MOVE IN THE PASSING LANE... The spring auctions are on this week in New York, and while Sotheby's and Christie's still dominate, some attention is going to No. 3, Philips, recently bought by Bernard Arnault, the "billionaire French entrepreneur and bitter rival of Christie's proprietor François Pinault. The works to be auctioned at the American Craft Museum, away from Phillips's own inadequate saleroom, are impressive. The auctioneer that has traditionally sold pictures of five- and six-figure values has moved into a new league." The Telegraph (London) 05/08/00
  • AWKWARD TRANSITION: A familiar face will be absent at this week's Sotheby's auctions. Diana Brooks was the face of Sotheby's as its president and chief executive before she resigned amidst widening auction house investigations in February. But "so big was her role at Sotheby's that it was impossible for her simply to walk away, officials at the company say." New York Times 05/08/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday May 5

  • WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY: The London-based auction house Philips is a distant third in the auction business. But since Bernard Arnault and his luxury goods conglomerate, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), bought Phillips for £75 million, the the auctioneer has suddenly acquired enormous resources as part of "a multi-billion dollar operation which already controlled over ten fashion labels, seven wine and spirits brands, ten perfume companies, five watchmakers, numerous distribution companies and a rapidly growing number of online interests." Already there are signs Philips is ready to make some waves. The Art Newspaper 05/05/00

Wednesday May 3

  • ARTFUL BUYBACK: Failing to convince Christie's auction house not to sell what they consider to be looted cultural treasures, Beijingers bid on the items in Hong Kong auctions to keep the artwork in China.  "We spent half an hour calling our group leaders in Europe to report the feelings of Hong Kong's people, the attitude of Christie's and the statement of the State Bureau of Cultural Relics. Our leaders' decision was that if Christie's insisted on going ahead to sell the looted treasures, we would grab them . . . and the only way was to join the bidding." South China Morning Post 05/02/00

Tuesday May 2

  • DESIGNER DISCARDS: Designer Karl Lagerfeld’s astonishing collection of 18th century furniture and art objects fetched $21.7 million at Christie’s - the second-biggest sale ever for the Christie’s Monaco auction house. Times of India 05/02/00

Monday May 1

  • SELLING HERITAGE: The Chinese government tried to stop Christie's auction house from selling two sculptures at auction in Hong Kong. The sale went ahead anyway, and the pieces were bought by a Beijing man, who says he bought them for "the Chinese people." According to China's State Bureau of Cultural Relics, "both sculptures came from a set of 12 bronze animal heads that adorned the Zodiac Fountain at Yuanmingyuan, or the Old Summer Palace, which was looted by British and French troops during the second Opium War in 1860." China Times 05/01/00
  • Chinese angry at auction house over auction. New York Times 05/01/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • TODAY MELBOURNE, TOMORROW... Deutscher Menzies controls the Melbourne auction business and has a leg up in Sydney. "Once the saleroom is established nationally, it will take on the big two [Sotheby's and Christie's] on their home turfs in London and New York. In December Menzies made a bid for the world's third oldest auction house, the London-based Phillips. He was one of a group of shortlisted bidders but lost out to French financier Bernard Arnault, head of the luxury products group LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The Age (Melbourne) 05/01/00

Thursday April 27

  • A LITTLE DISTANCE PLEASE: Okay, so Sotheby's chairman has resigned in the midst of the auction house investigations. But if his people still control the board of directors, how will the company make a clean break from possible misdeeds of the past? Financial Times 04/27/00

  • TARNISHED TALE: Sotheby's chairman Alfred Taubman rebuilt Sotheby's and helped make it successful - it was all a kind of fairy tale. But sometimes fairy tales write their own dark endings... New York Times 04/27/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Wednesday April 26

  • UNDUE INFLUENCE? Sotheby's postpones it annual meeting as its largest shareholder pushes the auction house to distance itself from its former chairman amidst growing investigations into the company's practices. New York Times 04/26/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 

Monday April 24

  • DEATH WATCH: In the furious competition for artwork to sell, today's big auction houses skin their elbows trying to land prestigious - read lucrative - art to sell. That means combing the daily obits. And it means... New York Times 04/24/00 (one-time registration required for entry)


  • A FORMAL DENIAL: In response to the recently filed civil suit alleging price-fixing, Sotheby's officially denied conspiring with its rival auction house Christie's to fix commissions and asked a federal judge to dismiss the charges. New York Times 04/13/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • AUCTION HOUSE DEFECTION: Russian heirs of the pioneering abstract artist Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935) have decided to sell a painting estimated to be worth £13 million at Phillips, the London auction house which has long stood in the shadow of Christie's and Sotheby's. 04/11/00

  • MAYBE IT'S AN AUCTION THING: Christie's and Sotheby's legal woes are well known. But on-line auctioneer E-Bay is also getting tangled up in legal challenges. According to court documents, E-bay is currently involved in three US government investigations. The Art Newspaper 04/07/00 

  • CONSPIRACY THEORY: Prosecutors in the federal antitrust investigation of Sotheby's and Christie's have evidence that the chairmen of both auction houses personally set in motion a price-fixing scheme to limit competition. Both men deny the accusations, but “the allegation that a conspiracy was devised at the very top of the venerable auction houses raises the stakes in the investigation, which has already roiled the world of art collectors.” New York Times 04/07/00 (one-time registration required for entry)  

  • PILING ON: As many as 200 Australian art and antique dealers may file lawsuits against Sotheby's and Christie's, charging the auction houses with collusion on fixing commissions during the 1990s. Sydney Morning Herald 03/30/00

  • NO NEVER MIND: Word is that the spring's auction house sales will be as strong as ever in a robust market, despite investigations of Sotheby's/Christie's. New York Times 03/27/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES? Record profits and good times defined the past few years in the art auction business. But the prosperity might have been an unsustainable illusion for auction giants Sotheby's and Christie's. "Their old-money monopoly on taste had been unraveling for years, as the Internet began to make buying-by-bid both digital and - gasp - democratic." New York Magazine 03/20/00

  • AWASH IN MONEY: The world's two auction giants may be having their difficulties, but the art market is the strongest it's been in years. London Telegraph 03/13/00

  • E-BAY DENIES REPORT that it will buy troubled auction house Sotheby's for $1.6 billion. Wired 02/29/00

  • A MATTER OF HONESTY: For all Al Taubman's fabulous success running Sotheby's these last 17 years, he forgot one thing, writes Thomas Hoving: "the basic point about what Sotheby's had to be. Honest. The opposite of caveat emptor. Clean. Never-a-scandal. Caesar's wife. Or, to quote from a renowned 1928 court of appeals ruling, 'Not honesty alone but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive.' " 02/28/00

  • NO PAIN, NO GAIN:  "Pessimists are worried that Christie's and Sotheby's may not even survive the crisis. Derek Johns, a London dealer who was once a director of Sotheby's, says, 'It would be devastating if they became bankrupt.' The optimists, on the other hand, say that Christie's and Sotheby's have survived drama and scandal in the past, and that a better, more competitive and less arrogant art market may eventually come out of all this." London Telegraph 02/28/00

  • E-BAY TO BUY SOTHEBY'S? Five-year-old eBay is reported to be interested in buying the troubled 256-year-old auction house. Valued by the stock market, eBay is worth nearly $20 billion, 16 times Friday's closing price for Sotheby's. The Independent 02/27/00

  • OF SINS AND SCANDALS: So what's a little collusion? Other auction house practices may be legal, but they're far from fair. 02/28/00

  • SELLERS' MARKET: "This sends a bolt of lightning through the marketplace," said Scott Black, president of Delphi Management, a Boston money-management firm, and a serious collector who has spent tens of millions of dollars on fine paintings. "When you step into that auction room and raise your hand, you assume it's a fair market. . . . I think a lot of people are going to think twice about the spring auctions." Washington Post 02/27/00

  • BLOOD IN THE WATER: With Sotheby's and Christie's busy with investigators, the auction-house competition behind them consolidates. After buying Phillips, the world's third largest auction house, less than four months ago, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton buys Tajan, France's largest auction house. The deal will allow Phillips to enter the French auction market, which remains closed to foreign auctioneers. It will also give Tajan's customers access to the London and New York markets, where Phillips has sales and where taxes are lower than in France. New York Times 02/25/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • Sotheby's/Christie's problems could level the playing field. BusinessWeek 02/25/00

  • AMAZON TO BUY SOTHEBY'S? The auction house's share price surges Wednesday on speculation that the company is ripe for a takeover. Financial Times 02/24/00

  • SELLING SCRAMBLE: With the spring art auction season approaching, Christie's and Sotheby's scramble to get works to sell. Sellers are eager to take advantage of the high markets, but many are wondering what effect the collusion scandal will have. New York Times 02/24/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • "EXPENSIVE BUT NOT LIFE-THREATENING": New chairman of Sotheby's, on the job just one day, brushes aside his company's plunging stock price and predicts the auction company will come out intact from the US Government's investigation of collusion. New York Times 02/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • Europeans to join in lawsuits against auction houses. London Times 02/23/00

  • So what's the case for collusion, why's it so wrong and can the auction houses talk their way out of trouble? Slate 02/23/00

  • DON'T GET MAD, GET EVEN: Australian art dealer Chris Deutscher believed giant auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's nearly ran him out of business. So he closed up his gallery and opened upstart Australian auction house Deutscher Menzies. The firm is finding its niche, prospering, even, as the Sotheby/Christie's scandal widens - DM racked up a 50 per cent increase in sales this past year.  Sydney Morning Herald 02/23/00

  • THAT HAPPENED UNDER THE OLD GUYS: As US investigation into collusion between the top auction houses widens, chief executives at Sotheby's suddenly resign yesterday. New York Times 02/22/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • STEP IN STEP: A wave of lawsuits against Christie's and Sotheby's for price fixing amidst a pattern of seemingly lockstep behavior. New York Times 02/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • CHRISTIE'S/SOTHEBY'S PRICE FIXING SCANDAL could have big repercussions for art Down Under. Sydney Morning Herald 02/09/00

  • Australian dealers have long suspected collusion. The Age (Melbourne) 02/09/00

  • "A SCANDAL TO SHAKE THE ART MARKET TO ITS FOUNDATIONS": Christie's auction house has turned state's evidence and told anti-trust investigators from the United States Justice Department about an alleged deal with Sotheby's to limit competition on sellers' commissions. Watch for the lawsuits to start flying. London Telegraph 02/07/00








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