The law of 10 July 2000 makes the distinction between two types of sales of personal property at public auctions, and they are subject to different legal regulations.
Voluntary sales come through the independent decision of a person to sell all or part of their property. A voluntary sale is led by a auction house, whose activities are submitted to the law of 20 July 2011. They must meet the qualification and integrity conditions guaranteed by the Conseil des Ventes Volontaires (French Auction Market Authority).
Judicial sales, which result from a court decision or are prescribed by law, are conducted by a judicial auctioneer. He is a law officer appointed by order of the Minister of Justice (Keeper of the Seals) who reports to the Chambre Nationale des Commissaires-Priseurs Judiciaires(National Chamber of Judicial Auctioneers). Judicial auctioneers can appraise and list estates in the event of inheritance, apportionment, and guardianship, etc. as well as make appraisals for insurance purposes.
Public auctions, might they be voluntary or judicial, benefit from a very high level of security and transparency in their transactions, courtesy of the training required to lead these auctions, the five-year liability guarantee from the auction house, and the five-year authenticity guarantee attached to the object that has been sold.
You may contact one of Drouot’s auction houses in order to get an estimate. The auctioneers officiating at Drouot offer comprehensive and impartial advice, while respecting complete confidentiality. They are authorised to appraise objects and set their estimates. They can also take an advisory role regarding the management of property.
L’inventaire dressé par le commissaire-priseur constitue un répertoire du patrimoine mobilier, comprenant la description, des informations sur l’époque, la provenance, la technique, les références bibliographiques et l’évaluation des biensThe valuation drawn up by the auctioneer is a list of the property. It includes the lots’ description, information on the era, its provenance, the technique, bibliographical references, and the estimate.
An initial opinion can be obtained free of charge by sending an email or a letter with photographs of the objects. An authorised auctioneer can then arrange an appointment to conduct a valuation in-situ.
Once an estimate has been set, the auctioneer informs the consignor whether it is a good time to sell with regard to the market and informs them of the terms.
The Hôtel Drouot hosts nearly 1,200 auctions each year, most of which are presented in a catalogue.
The auction catalogue includes key information about an item: its description, its stylistic characteristics, its date, its condition, its provenance and its estimate.
The catalogue also sets out the general conditions of sale; it is recommended to read it before bidding.
The catalogues are available at the Hôtel Drouot, on the auction calendar at drouot.com and on the websites of the respective auction houses.