• gerard van weyenbergh

Responsibility of an auction house if a fake is sold.

In general, the auction house incurs its liability in the event of a fault during the sale.

Its responsibility can be engaged for various reasons, and the range of decisions in this regard testify to the fact that it is frequent, for these houses, to see their civil liability engaged.

For example, an auction house will be responsible for the sale of a property

-for having verified its provenance,

-if a catalog is containing insufficient or inaccurate information.

Likewise, in the event of an attribution error, the responsibility of the auction house will be retained. Many law decisions have been made on this subject for example: 1/ A Court retained the responsibility of the auctioneer, for following reasons: "Except recourse against the expert who assisted him, the auctioneer who asserts without reserve the authenticity of the work of art engages his responsibility on this assertion".

2/ In another example, an auctioneer had, with the assistance of an expert and with a certificate of authenticity, issued by the Association of the friends of an artist X, presented the object in the catalog as a work of the artist.

If the auction house was assisted by an expert, this does not allow it to free itself from any responsibility.

Indeed, in the event of the sale of a fake, the auction house cannot be released from any responsibility on the grounds that an expert would have intervened to rule on the authenticity of a work.

Its responsibility will then be engaged if - it has not ensured that all the necessary investigations have been carried out

- if it has not shown a critical mind towards the conclusions of the expert.

The court considers that the auctioneer's responsibility should be engaged, to the extent that he would have had to investigate further the authenticity of the work before offering it for sale.

Partial from article on jurisexpert.com