New York State court ruling could change the rules for auctions

My goal is to publish new posts twice a week — Mondays and Thursdays. However, if you don’t see a new post on Thursday, it’s because I was too busy, so please look for a new one the following Monday.

Auction houses may have to reveal the names of consignors if a ruling by a court in New York State is upheld. The decision by the Supreme Court of the Appellate Division of New York State was announced September 19, 2012. It stated that an auction house does not have an enforceable contract unless it includes the names of the buyer and seller.

I.P. Khlebnikov Russian box, Jenack lot #193

Specifically, William J. Jenack Estate Appraisers & Auctioneers, of Chester, New York, tried to collect payment from a buyer who purchased a Russian enamel box at auction on September 21, 2008. The lot, #193, was described as “FINE RUSSIAN SILVER/ENAMEL COVERED BOX WITH GILT INTERIOR, SIGNED I.P. KHLEBNIKOV, 19TH CENTURY. HEIGHT 1 1/2″; TOP 2 1/2 X 3 5/8″ (ESTIMATE $4000-$6000) NOTE: There are two slight enamel chips on left side of enameled picture.” Phone and Internet bidders sent the final price to $400,000.

The buyer never paid, claiming fraud by the auction house. He stated that Jenack artificially pushed the price to $400,000. The first ruling, in 2010, by the New York State Supreme court, was in Jenack’s favor. It ordered the buyer to pay $402,398. The appellate court reversed the ruling, based on General Obligations Law 5-701, which states that the names of both the buyer and seller be included.

As practiced today, auction houses never reveal the names of consignors, unless the consignor wants it known. Sometimes a lot will state “Property of a Gentleman” or “From a New York City Estate”. If the consignor is famous, the name is revealed, because it’s helpful. What would happen to consignments if auction house were forced to reveal the names of consignors? Many sellers would be reluctant to consign, so auction houses would have a much more difficult time attracting consignments. It’s conceivable that some weaker ones will be put out of business.

The story is not over. It’s possible the case may go to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. It’s been reported that Christie’s may join in the case. Every auction house will be affected by the final ruling. Some are holding their breath.

I will be posting videos on YouTube of my lecture on French Cameo Glass to the Metropolitan Glass Club. I need some time to edit the videos. When they’re ready, I’ll put the link on my website and here in my blog.

Just purchased this unbelievable Gallé seagull vase — one of the best Gallé vases I’ve ever owned

Click this link to view some of the new objects I recently purchased and listed. French glass for sale. We always strive to offer the finest objects for sale on our website and at every show.

Wonderful Schneider controlled bubble vase with wheel-carved Art Deco handles, recently acquired

Look around my website. There are many items for sale, sold items with prices and free lessons about glass and lamps. I regularly add Tiffany vases, lamps and desk accessories, as well as French cameo glass by Galle and Daum Nancy and etchings by Louis Icart. Here’s the link. Philip Chasen Antiques.

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