Many of you probably noticed that something very odd happened earlier today at the Christies single owner auction of Mohammed Zaman's collection. There was an hour long delay at the beginning of the auction. Then, during the auction, the low estimates jumped up in price for all the lots. Here's an example involving a Ludovic Ballouard:
This was an odd turn of events. To make things even stranger, it appeared as though a specific bidder, paddle 1013, was winning the majority of the lots.
After discussing this auction with several collectors and individuals involved in the industry, I feel like I have somewhat of an understanding of what happened.
Christies made a very appealing offer to Mr. Zaman in order to win his business, guaranteeing that he will net a certain set amount of money on each of the lots that he submitted. This was a way for Christies to entice him to sell with them.
Before the auction began, Christies realized that they had greatly overestimated market demand, and that many of the lots were going to sell for significantly less than the guarantee. Christies would be on the hook.
And so they sought out a third party guarantor onto whom to transfer some of the risk. Perhaps this was the reason for the hour long delay at the beginning of the auction, as they scrambled to work out the details with the third party.
At this point, Christies raised their low estimates to one bid short of the guarantee levels, in order to mitigate losses. The original low estimates were a marketing ploy. Bidders went into the auction thinking that they could win a piece for a certain amount, only to find out that the minimum had been significantly raised.
And so the third party guarantor, whom I assume was represented by paddle 1013, walked away with a large number of lots for prices that we will never know. I assume they won the lots at hammer price, with no fees, although we will never know for certain.
Mr. Zaman sold his collection in 2023 for 2022 prices.
Allegedly, Christies has a similar guarantee deal with Mr. Getreide and his OAK collection. Oops.
Moderator Edit: While the above scenario is considered to be speculative, it is a highly plausible scenario and is supported by facts. I encourage all members to vigorously discuss the topic but try to keep your speculations within the supported facts. Discussions about past auction house misconduct is appropriate too, but ideally it should be related to this story. I have faith that all our members are going to pursue gentlemanly and thoughtful discussions, this message is just a word out of an abundance of caution. Many many thanks and please carry on!