On Wednesday 6 July, the French parliament finally adopted a draft bill that would have the effect of liberalising public auction sales of artworks and particularly the use of internet in such sales. According to the government, the text – a compromise elaborated by a mixed committee of 7 deputies and 7 senators – will “modernise” and “considerably relax the regulatory framework governing voluntary auction sales”, according to the French government (AFP). The text transposes the European “Services” Directive and establishes the principle of free practice of public auctions as well as an extension of the categories of goods that may be sold at auctions.
According to thierry Ehrmann, the Founder and Ceo of Artprice, “this latest vote, published on 7 July 2011, was indeed France’s last chance to modernise its auction market as France has slipped in less than 45 years from the world’s most active auction market to 4th position, behind China -in first place-, the USA -in second place- and the UK -in third place.” (see the Art Market Annual report, freely available on Artprice.com).
“We have exasperated our European partners regarding the transposition of this directive into French national law. Remember that France was expected to have completed this transposition by 29 December 2009, and there are enormous pressures on France. In fact, in their annual report, the French Auction Market Authority (Conseil des Ventes Volontaires) considers that “it would be suicidal for France to introduce a minimal reform, and, after the injunctions issued by Brussels, the matter has come very close to being referred to the European Court of Justice”.”
In addition, the Drouot scandal has heavily handicapped the French art market. Over the past 2 years, the media has regularly published the sequels and consequences of the scandal and of the resulting litigations. Michel Deléan’s book “Adjugé Volé” (literally “Going, going, stolen”) on this subject is enlightening. Thirty-nine cases have already been brought to court. The government has decided to take the matter extremely seriously in view of the fact that Drouot represents 45% of the French art market.
Artprice was the first and the only organism to draft a reference law code, the Code des Ventes Volontaires et Judiciaires (Auction and Legal Sales Code), published in 2000 and which subsequently became the “Reform Bible” for French licensed auctioneers. This is the only work (1,800 pages) that criticises the first reform of 2000 and its non-application.
The 2000 reform was just a clever way to side-step European requirements, because it effectively left the licensed auctioneers with their monopoly that has stood since 1535 with the obligation – amongst others – to request an authorisation for each sale. This authorisation was given several days or even several hours before the sale. It therefore represented a real obstacle to the free movement of products and services in Europe, particularly with respect to auctions of artworks on the Internet.
The transposition into national law of the European Services Directive (2006/123/CE) acknowledging the notion of online operators of virtual (electronic) auctions fully complies with the recommendations MADE by the various different parliamentary commissions, to which Artprice contributed both expertise and data. Artprice has therefore all the success factors to be once again at the forefront of the evolution and history of the art market. The whole process has been definitely approved.
It should be noted that only Artprice –in its position as World Leader– possesses and defends, in the name of Intellectual Property, the world’s only process of Art Market dematerialization, which establishes a Standardised Marketplace that obviates the need for physical auction rooms just as ECN (Electronic Communication Networks) almost completely eliminated the need for stock exchange trading floors around the world, drastically reducing intermediation costs at the same time.
As thierry Ehrmann says: “we simply needed to be very patient and determined against a sales monopoly that had stood for close to 500 years (since 1535) by pursuing a legal struggle that lasted 11 years”.
Artprice would like to take this opportunity to invite its shareholders and the market to appreciate this historical legislative revolution and its impact on Artprice by reading the 36 questions & answers in the pedagogical interview published in mid-June 2011.
Internet links below:
Source: http://www.ARTPRICE.COM (c)1987-2011 thierry Ehrmann
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