The European Journal of Comparative Economics

ISSN: 1824-2979

EJCE Year: 2013, August. Volume: 10 - Issue: 2

Auctioneers vs. commissaires-priseurs: The carnival mirror of profession regulation in the international art market

by Elisabetta Lazzaro ; Nathalie Moureau

Start page: 159 - End page: 176

Keywords: Art market; Profession regulation; Auctioneers; Cross-country analysis

Jel code: J44; L43; Z11; D44

Abstract:

This paper is a comparative analysis of the recent evolution of the French and the Anglo-Saxon profession regulations of auctioneers in terms of entry barriers and exercise of the profession. Firstly, following Stephen and Love's (1999) framework of the regulation of legal profession, we highlight the differences between regulations focussing on different levels (entry restrictions, advertising, fees, fee contracts, and organisational form). We show that French commissaire-priseurs and Anglo-Saxon auctioneers are bounded to quite opposed rules, relating to both the level of regulation (licensing against registration or certification) and the scope of this regulation. Secondly, we try to assess the success of these regulations in terms of economic efficiency by comparing the international markets shares of French and Anglo-Saxon auctioneers. We further highlight how a weak regulation can disturb prices mechanisms and, in some cases, favour speculation. The discussion of some emblematic scandals highlights distortions provoked by a strong, as well as a weak regulation

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