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The Sale of Misattributed Artworks and Antiques at Auction

Anne L. Bandle

The glamour and mystery of the art auction, gathering interested buyers from across the globe, makes it one of the most fascinating marketplaces in existence. ‘Sleepers’, artworks or antiques that have been undervalued and mislabelled due to an expert’s oversight and consequently undersold, appear regularly. This fascinating new book provides the first extensive study of the phenomenon of sleepers through an in-depth analysis of the contractual relationships, liability and remedies that arise in the context of auction sales.
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Contents

Anne L. Bandle

Acknowledgements
List of figures
List of abbreviations
Foreword
Pierre Tercier
Table of cases
Introduction: Problem statement and objectives of this book
PART I    CREATION OF SLEEPERS AT AUCTION
1  Notion of “sleeper”
1.  Misdefined attributes
1.1  Creatorship respectively place of origin or discovery
1.2  Date or period of creation
1.3  Provenance
1.4  Correlation between attributes
2.  Identification of a sleeper
2.1  Defining action
2.2  Comparison to fakes and forgeries
2  Process of attribution of artworks and antiques
1.  Attribution techniques
1.1  Three attribution tools
1.2  Best-practice guidelines
2. Essence of attribution
2.1  Determining authenticity through attribution
2.2  Challenges in authentication
2.3  Attribution affects value
3.  Attribution at auction
3.1  History and positioning of auction houses
3.2  Occurrence of sleepers at auction
3.3  Underlying interests and needs in the creation of sleepers at auction
3  Interim conclusion
PART II   ANALYSIS OF THE CURRENT LEGAL REGIME IN SLEEPER DISPUTES
4  Interests and expectations in sleeper cases
1.  Expertise – informed decision
2.  Economic and business concerns
3.  Reputation
4.  Confidentiality
5  Current regime governing the auctioneer’s liability
1.  Swiss law
1.1  Legal relationships
1.2  Auctioneer’s duties to the consignor
1.3  Warranty disclaimer
1.4  Consignor’s causes of action
2.  English law
2.1  Legal relationships
2.2  Auctioneer’s duties to the consignor
2.3  Warranty disclaimer
2.4  Consignor’s causes of action
3.  United States law
3.1  Legal relationships
3.2  Auctioneer’s duties owed to the consignor
3.3  Warranty disclaimer
3.4  Consignor’s causes of action
6  Interim conclusion
PART III  COMPARATIVE AND CRITICAL ASSESSMENT
7  Comparative analysis
1.  Controversial aspects in the legal relationships
1.1  Parties to the sale contract
1.2  Auctioneer’s dual representation
2.  Difficulties in assessing diligence
2.1  Reasonable auctioneer standard
2.2  Requirement of expert consensus
3.  Disclaimer of liability versus authenticity guarantee
3.1  Disclaimers as protection shield for auctioneers
3.2  Courts interpreting the art auction houses’ disclaimers
3.3  Trends in the protection of consumers and art auction consignors
8  Critical assessment
1.  Implications for the parties, the courts and the art market
1.1  Legal relationships
1.2  Reasonable auctioneer standard
1.3  Reliability of attributions and catalogue content
1.4  Authentication at court
1.5  Burden of proof and evidence
1.6  Anonymity
1.7  Emerging legislation
1.8  Contrasting juxtaposition of sleepers and forgeries
2.  Fairness and drawbacks
2.1  Auction practice: consignors v purchasers
2.2  Legal regime and its implications
9  Interim conclusion
PART IV  FUTURE PERSPECTIVES: MARKET REGULATION – NEW TRADING PRACTICES
10  Authenticity guarantee to consignors
11  Alternative means of dispute resolution
1.  Underlying reasons and benefits
1.1  Confidentiality
1.2  Cooperation
1.3  Control and flexibility
1.4  Expense and delay
1.5  Experts as dispute resolvers
2.  Formalised alternative dispute resolution
2.1  Advantages of formalised alternative dispute resolution
2.2  Outlines of formalised alternative dispute resolution
12  Conclusions
References
Appendix 1: Model terms
Authenticity guarantee to consignors
Formalised alternative dispute resolution
Switzerland and England
United States
Appendix 2: Auction terms and conditions
Christie’s Conditions of Sale – London
Koller Auktionen Conditions of Sale – Geneva
Sotheby’s Conditions of Sale – London
Appendix 3: Illustrations of sleepers
Index

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