During the lockdown, auction houses held online art sales. Both online and in live formulas were successful. At the same time, the Marketplace sites also carried out Internet sales. Now we know that more and more of us will be buying online. This is an opportunity to look at the subtle guarantees, as Aude Ceysson, auctioneer, explains in detail.
Online art sales
First, there are public auctions governed by auctioneers. However, other operators also organise online art sales.
- Live" auctions: the auctioneer conducts a live public sale. He follows the bids in the auction room and online via a control screen.
- Online auctions: this is an automatic system that manages the sale only on the Internet. The sale can last several days. In this case, the auctioneer always controls the sale catalogue. This is known as dematerialized sales.
- Direct online sales. Here it is different because it is an OTC sale with a fixed or negotiated price. However, the buyers benefit from the same guarantees. The confusion comes from the fact that auction houses organise these three types of sales. At the same time, other market operators offer online sales as well.
In reality, the general public is unfamiliar with the different rules of law that may apply. So is it the same to buy on a sales platform or in a public auction room? Well no Ebay or Amazon do not always offer the same guarantees to the buyer.
What are the buyer's guarantees for an online purchase?
If you buy on a merchant site, consumer law applies. That is to say that you will not be covered in particular in case of forgery or imitation. In addition, if the work is damaged or even stolen, the buyer will not have the same guarantee. Moreover, the information on the artist's rating is not mandatory.
On the contrary, public auction platforms such as Drouot Live, Interenchères, Auction, where French auctioneers officiate, bring you guarantees. The main guarantees of a purchase of a work of art are first of all its authenticity but also its state of conservation and traceability.
While the terms used seem to be very close between "online" and "online", the consumer protections are not the same.
The professional practices and legal obligations that govern public auctions allow voluntary auctioneers to offer buyers and sellers a level of guarantees that is far superior to other forms of transactions. For example, over-the-counter transactions over the Internet do not provide sufficient assurance in transactions.
The art market professional must verify the legality of the seller's ownership and the authenticity of the objects sold. Do not hesitate to ask for information when buying a work of art, as recommended by the Voluntary Sales Council.