The two main auction houses, Christies and Sotheby’s, are having serious legal problems. Since 1997, the U.S. Justice Department has investigated if the two companies violated anti-trust laws by colluding to set their commission structures. But according to reports, the investigation took a turn a few weeks ago, when Christie’s disclosed that it had cut a deal with the Justice Department for conditional amnesty in exchange for information on price-fixing in the industry, including information about its own conduct under prior management. There are also several class-action lawsuits stemming from the investigation. This has already had major repercussions in the companies — both the president and CEO of Sotheby’s recently resigned.
From our readers’ perspective, the important news is that, as a result of this, the auction houses have both changed their commission structures. Sotheby’s new sellers commission numbers include:
20% Up to $1,999
15% $2,000 to $7,499
10% $7.500 to $99,999
9% $100,000 to $249,999
8% $250,000 to $499,999
6% $500,000 to $999,999
And while we don’t have Christie’s numbers yet, one thing is assured — their numbers will be different.